Hertha Berlin Players, Officials Kneel in Solidarity with American Athletes

Alec Nathan@@AlecBNathanFeatured ColumnistOctober 14, 2017

Players of Berlin kneel down prior to the German Bundesliga soccer match between Hertha BSC Berlin and FC Schalke 04 in Berlin, Germany, Saturday, Oct. 14, 2017. Hertha Berlin nodded to social struggles in the United States by kneeling before its Bundesliga game at home to Schalke on Saturday. Hertha’s starting lineup linked arms and took a knee on the pitch, while coaching staff, officials and substitutes took a knee off it. The action was intended to show solidarity with NFL players who have been demonstrating against discrimination in the US by kneeling, sitting or locking arms through the anthem before games.  (AP Photo/Michael Sohn)
Michael Sohn/Associated Press

Players and coaches from Bundesliga side Hertha Berlin kneeled prior to Saturday's game against Schalke in a stand "for diversity and against violence."

"Berlin is colourful," the public address announcer at Olympiastadion Berlin said, according to ESPN FC's Stephan Uersfeld"Hertha BSC stands for diversity and against violence. For this reason, we are joining forces with the protest of our fellow American athletes to take a stand against discrimination. For a tolerant Berlin, both now and forevermore."

Following Saturday's 2-0 loss, Ivorian forward Salomon Kalou told reporters Hertha Berlin got the idea to kneel from NFL players who have protested social injustice and racial inequality during the American national anthem. 

"As Hertha we always fight against racism," he said, per Uersfeld. "For us, kneeling down is a way of fighting against this kind of behaviour. It should not exist in any kind of sport. Not in NFL, and not in football or soccer, like they call it in the U.S.it shouldn't exist in any sport, period. For us, it's a good example to show."

In a memo sent to team executives and presidents Tuesday, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell wrote, "like many of our fans, we believe that everyone should stand for the National Anthem. ... We want to honor our flag and our country and our fans expect that of us," according to NPR's Amy Held

However, a league spokesman later told NFL.com there will be no rule implemented that requires players to stand during "The Star-Spangled Banner." 

Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones also made waves when he stated players on his team who kneeled or protested during the anthem would be benched. 

"If you do not honor and stand for the flag in the way that a lot of our fans feel that you should, if that's not the case, then you won't play," Jones said, according to the Dallas Morning NewsKate Hairopoulos. "That's nothing new as far as that being my wish or the way I want the Cowboys."

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