UNITED: The Liverpool squad show support to George Floyd who was killed by law enforcement officers in the US. Photo Andrew Powell, Liverpool FC.
Liverpool’s home match in the European Cup Winners Cup against SK Brann of Norway in 1997 is a match that will be remembered not just because of the football that was played on the night.
Liverpool won the game by three goals to nil with homegrown striker Robbie Fowler netting a brace. But it was what the forward did after scoring his second goal that signifies the importance of this particular fixture.
Fowler, a Liverpool lad and Scouser through and through, celebrated the goal by lifting up his Liverpool shirt to reveal a T-shirt underneath supporting the city’s dock workers who had been sacked in their hundreds during a strike over overtime pay.
Fowler’s gesture in front of the Kop was appreciated. After all, this amazing young striker was one of their own. Brought up on the streets of Toxteth in the south of the city, close to the docks, there is no doubt whatsoever that his actions were extremely genuine.
He would have sympathised with the families of the striking dockers and his gesture elevated their plight a great deal.
Fowler was fined for his protest along with his teammate and fellow Liverpudlian Steve McManaman, who at the end of the game revealed he too was wearing the same protest T-shirt under his Liverpool strip.
The cash penalties handed out to the highly paid footballers was nothing more than small change to them, but the respect they earned for their actions was priceless.
The powers that be complained, claiming footballers are role models and should be setting a better example, but what better example can their possibly be than standing up for injustices?
Fast forward 23 years and Liverpool players once again took a stand, this time by kneeling down in the centre circle of Anfield during a training session to show respect and support for George Floyd, the African-American who was brutally and senselessly murdered by law enforcement officers in Minnesota, the US.
His pointless death and video recorded of him lying on the ground with a policeman’s knee in his neck as he gasped for breath, has lit a powder keg in the US, and the backlash has been huge all over the world.
The Liverpool players were not the only footballers who protested, as players from Chelsea and Newcastle United later followed suit.
Jadon Sancho, the young English striker who plays for Borussia Dortmund, took his shirt off after scoring at the weekend to display a handwritten message on a T-shirt which read: "Justice For George Floyd".
Also in Germany, Borussia Mönchengladbach striker Marcus Thuram took a knee after scoring, again in support of Floyd.
These actions could see them lose support from some members of society, but believe me, it sure is worth it.
While on one hand, they are clearly showing solidarity to Floyd, they are also protesting against mindless racism that still is abundant in all walks of life as well as in professional football, and many other sports.
It’s 2020 for God’s sake. Why in this day and age are people still judged by the colour of their skin or where they come from? It’s insane, ridiculous and completely stupid.
Taking a knee or writing a message on a T-shirt won’t stop ignorance, but these actions from athletes adored by millions of people are a far better form of protest than mindless vandalism and violence. VNS