Sheffield United forward David McGoldrick was the driving force behind the players taking a knee at kickoff during their Premier League match at Aston Villa.
In a powerful moment in support of the Black Lives Matter movement, when referee Michael Oliver blew his whistle, all 22 players, substitutes, backroom staff and the officials took a knee for 10 seconds.
The Daily Mail reports that it was McGoldrick who first proposed the idea. The 32-year-old, alongside Blades captain Billy Sharp, suggested it to Villa goalkeeper Tom Heaton.
This led to pre-match talks and soon both clubs were unanimously agreed they would do it. The Mirror adds that both managers, Dean Smith and Chris Wilder, approved the idea. As did United and Villa chief executives, Stephen Bettis and Christian Purslow.
The reaction to McGoldrick and Sheffield United initiating this
There has been widespread support for what the players did in that first game back as part of ‘Project Restart’. It was later emulated that same evening by Manchester City and Arsenal.
Man City attacker Raheem Sterling said: “Little by little we’re seeing change. It was natural, it was organic. We saw the teams do it in the earlier kickoff and thought it was something we had to do as well.”
The 16 top flight clubs who are yet to play their first fixtures back are all expected to take a knee as well over the weekend.
Kick It Out chairman Sanjay Bhandari added: “It was fantastic. It was so choreographed and so powerful. It is really important we have these gestures of solidarity.”
Players also wore ‘Black Lives Matter’ at the top of their shirts instead of their name, while there was an NHS badge on the front.
Meanwhile, the Blades tweeted a simple tribute to McGoldrick and the key role he played in such a significant moment.
— Sheffield United (@SheffieldUnited) June 18, 2020