THE English Premier League restarted on Wednesday in a bid to finish the 2019/2020 season, after the COVID-19 forced an abrupt halt to the season.
The league restarted with players and officials observing strict hygiene protocols and taking a knee to support the worldwide protests against racism.
Players had their names on the back of their shirts replaced with the words “Black Lives Matter,” as a way of joining the movement sparked by the murder of a black man George Floyd by a white police officer in the US.
The kneeling protest followed a moment’s silence in memory of those who have died so far in the pandemic.
Part of the extensive protocol included the trimming of personnel allowed into the stadium to restrict possible spread of coronavirus.
The traditional handshakes were banned, players emerged from their changing rooms separately, lined up two metres apart and no ballboys were allowed.
After Manchester City beat Arsenal 3-0 at the Etihad Stadium in the second match of the opening day, Man City manager Pep Guardiola voiced his embarrassment at the treatment of black people the world over as he threw his support for the “Black Lives Matter” movement.
He said: “I am embarrassed, I am ashamed for what white people have done for the black people.
“We have to do a lot of things to right 400 years of past wrongs.”
“We should send one thousand million messages for black people. Four centuries, four hundred years to do what we do for these lovely people.
“Just because you are born with another colour of skin, how can people think you are completely different than others.”
Guardiola feels a lot more need be done to keep the momentum on racism as he regarded the gestures of players and officials taking a knee as good.
He noted that racism “can’t be solved in a few days but everything we can do, we can do. We have to do a lot of things for the black people that we have not done so far.”
City forward Raheem Sterling, who has suffered racist abuse on the field and has become a strong voice against racial discrimination said, “it as a massive step for the Premier League to allow something like that to happen and it shows we’re going in the right direction.
“Little by little we’re seeing change. It was natural, it was organic. We saw the teams do it in the earlier kick-off and thought it was something we had to do as well.’