The “take a knee” movement crossed the Atlantic Ocean on Saturday morning as Hertha Berlin’s players and coaches kneeled before their Bundesliga soccer game against visiting Schalke in a call for “tolerance and responsibility.”
Some NFL players, as well as a few other U.S. athletes, have been taking a knee during the playing of the national anthem for some time now, but Hertha Berlin is thought to be the first European soccer team to do the same. The German national anthem is not usually played before Bundesliga games and was not Saturday.
“Berlin is colorful,” the Hertha stadium announcer told the fans in attendance, according to ESPN. “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.”
Hertha Berlin features players from 10 nations and plays in a city with a sizable immigrant population, with nearly one in five residents being foreign nationals.
“Hertha always stands against racism. If we can fight against that as a team, and as the city of Berlin, then that’s something we want to do,” Salomon Kalou, a forward from Ivory Coast, said after the game (again per ESPN). “I think Hertha is living a good example to fight against this phenomenon. The idea comes from the whole team. We stand against racism, and we will always fight this behavior as a team, as a city.
“As Hertha we always fight against racism. For us, kneeling down is a way of fighting against this kind of behavior. 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.”