Footballers have been taking a knee before every match as a gesture of solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement, but there has been a fair share of controversy around the gesture over recent months.
Crystal Palace forward Wilfred Zaha has refused to take a knee before games any longer, and the controversy tipped over the brink when the Slavia Prague players refused to take the knee before their Europa League clash against Arsenal last night.
Arsenal went away to the Czech Republican capital in the second leg of their Europa League quarter-final clash, going into the game with the score tied 1-1 on aggregate.
As the players of both sides were to take the customary knee before the match, the Slavia Prague players denied doing so and simply lined up next to each other.
In contrast of affairs, the Arsenal players all took the knee – but none more influential than Alexandre Lacazette, who was firm in his gesture in front of the Slavia players, and later made the opposition players pay by scoring a brace on the night.
Lacazette made it 2-0 on the night with a calmly converted penalty in the first half, while he completed the scoring with a finish that boasts of conviction to help his side cruise to a 4-0 away win.
Not only did the French forward scored a double on the night to help Arsenal march into the semi-finals on aggregate, but he also helped in football’s fight against racism by standing up in the face of its detractors.
Lacazette has been hailed across the world on social media for taking what is being termed as the most powerful knee in football’s ongoing war against any form of racism – sending the message that there is no room for racism in the beautiful game.
Arsenal fans can take a lot of pride in what Lacazette did tonight pic.twitter.com/jlvjUmdBNS— James Benge (@jamesbenge) April 15, 2021
New contender for footballer of the year pic.twitter.com/nyXwwyAmMm— Miguel Delaney (@MiguelDelaney) April 15, 2021
Lacazette’s knee that he took right in front of Slavia isn’t being talked about enough.— EiF (@EiFSoccer) April 15, 2021
In terms of making a statement against racism and bigotry – that’s a monumental moment.
Takes a firm stance, isn’t intimidated, and gets his goals to further cement the moment.
Doing this, then scoring twice afterwards. That’s proper leadership from Lacazette tonight. pic.twitter.com/ObBuI83Ib8— Sam Dean (@SamJDean) April 15, 2021
Alexandre Lacazette stared directly at Slavia Prague’s players as he took the knee before scoring twice in Arsenal’s 4-0 Europa League win. pic.twitter.com/lWLbmhzyno— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) April 15, 2021