The “take a knee” protest, where American football players in the National Football League (NFL) kneel during the national anthem, had all the polarizing aspects a social activism movement should have.
Firstly, the protest had a uniting cause: police brutality of African Americans in the United States. According to statistics website ProFootballLogic, 68 percent of players in the NFL are black. But perhaps more importantly, the “take a knee” protest had the perfect antagonist: the President of the United States, Donald Trump. One speech calling the protestors “sons of bitches” and a few bombastic tweets from the former reality television star was enough to escalate the protest movement to unprecedented heights.
The defiance of these American football players in the face of criticism — which came not only from Trump but many others, including some inside the NFL — was a huge victory for social activism in sports. Colin Kaepernick, the player who started a protest in 2016, may never get a job in the NFL after being released by the San Francisco 49ers earlier this year, but he will have a place in history as someone who risked his professional sports career to stand up for something he believed in.
If only that were the case in soccer…
No room for activism
With the “take a knee” protest, Kaepernick became a social activist comparable to Mohammad Ali, who risked his boxing career and imprisonment when he refused to enlist during the Vietnam War. European soccer does not have that, and considering the platform these superstars have, that is a real disappointment.
While LeBron James is using his widely followed social media accounts to address social issues, Cristiano Ronaldo is sharing pictures of himself shirtless or advertising his new boots. It’s not like there aren’t social issues to talk about in Europe. There is a migrant crisis, Neo-Nazism, widespread racism and, in some…