‘United in our decision’ – Team GB footballers to take knee at Olympics

The Team GB women’s football team have confirmed they will take a knee before the kick-off of their matches at the Tokyo Olympics and have selected three captains – one from England, Wales and Scotland – for the tournament.

With their first game on Wednesday, against Chile in Sapporo, the squad have welcomed the recent clarification provided by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) on Rule 50 to allow athletes to make gestures on the field of play, provided they do so without disruption and with respect for fellow competitors.

The manager, Hege Riise, said: “The players and staff have been taking the knee at club and international level for over a year now and we were all united in our decision to continue doing whatever we can to raise awareness of racism and discrimination in all its forms, standing in unity and solidarity with all those whose lives are affected.

“We are clear that taking the knee is an important symbol of peaceful protest against discrimination, injustice and inequality in society and we are glad that the IOC have acknowledged the importance of this form of freedom of expression.

“We will do so with the utmost respect for our fellow competitors, officials and the IOC, with due regard for the ideals that lie at the heart of the Olympic movement.”

Riise said the England captain, Steph Houghton, the Wales captain, Sophie Ingle, and the Scotland vice-captain, Kim Little, will share the Team GB armband game by game in Japan. “We are fortunate to have so many experienced and talented players in our squad and we think of ourselves as a ‘leaderful’ team, where every individual brings their own leadership strengths to the group.

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“However, Steph, Sophie and Kim will lead the way on the pitch. This is a very close group on and off the pitch and I have been so impressed how they have all come together.”

Team GB played their first game since the 2012 Olympics on Wednesday in a behind-closed-doors warmup friendly against New Zealand at the Todoroki stadium, Kawasaki. The Manchester City forward Ellen White scored twice and the new Arsenal signing Nikita Parris once, with her new teammate Kim Little captaining the team to a 3-0 win.