Euro 2021: would the players of the France team have had the right to kneel down against racism?

The Blues had announced that they would kneel down to denounce racism in the match against Germany. This initiative sparked controversy, especially in the ranks of the far right. The players are however well authorized to do it during the competition.

They announced it , they finally gave up: the Blues did not symbolically put their knees on the ground to denounce racism, Tuesday, June 15 against Germany, before their first match of Euro 2021. “We’re leaving of the principle that if we have to do it, all nations must do it, ” explained the captain of the Blues, Hugo Lloris. The announcement of the Blues had sparked a wave of indignation, especially on the side of the extreme right. On Europe 1, Tuesday, June 15, the candidate of the national rally in the Paca region, Thierry Mariani, said he regretted this knee to the ground. According to him, “article 5 of the Olympic charter recalls the neutrality of sport” .

“I regret the action of the knee on the ground of the @equipedefrance . It is an operation imported from a foreign country which has nothing to do with France. I am attached to the neutrality of sport! » @ Europe1

– Thierry MARIANI (@ThierryMARIANI) June 15, 2021

The Olympic Charter stipulates that athletes must be neutral during competition, this is even part of the seven fundamental principles of Olympism. Article 50 of this charter stipulates that “no kind of political, religious or racial demonstration or propaganda is permitted in any place, site or other Olympic site” . 

Except that this charter does not govern “sport” in general. Euro football is organized by UEFA ( the European Union of Football Associations) and not by the IOC, so UEFA rules apply. 

UEFA allows knee to fall

UEFA does not condemn dropping down on one knee to denounce racism, on the contrary, it encourages it. Contacted, the body explains to franceinfo that it has “zero tolerance against racism, therefore, any player who wants to demand equality between humans by kneeling on the ground is authorized to do so” . She even urges spectators to “show respect to the players and teams who make this gesture . ” Even if in its statutes UEFA claims to be “politically and religiously neutral” , it deploys “No to racism” banners itself.

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