Kerry Katona (left) and Theresa May have backed the Players’ Forum as player dissent rises
England and England Women’s players have issued an open letter, backing the Players’ Forum and condemning those calling for them to do the same during the Women’s World Cup.
England internationals Megan Davison, Carly Telford and Lucy Bronze have said they are not protesting, but merely kneeling in respect for those who died in the Grenfell Tower fire.
In a joint statement, they said: “A significant number of people are angry and trying to use this to divide the group.
“We do not support this, but we do respect and understand the disappointment that many feel as a result of what happened in London.”
Davison, England’s top scorer on 20 goals in 69 appearances, said: “It’s a request we’ve received from the Players’ Forum. That is what they want. The players want it very much.”
Davison is one of just three players who did not take part in the demonstration, which has been denounced by Russia manager John Capel, who described it as an act of “political con artistry”.
Davison said: “We’ve had a fantastic amount of good support and that is the most important thing.
“Whether you agree with what we’re doing, I want us to have such a fantastic and successful tournament and ultimately we want to win, so there’s nothing wrong with following what people else are doing and showing support.”
English Premier League managers have also back the players’ actions, with West Ham boss David Moyes saying the gesture is “perfectly appropriate” while Swansea manager Graham Potter joined his Baggies counterpart Alan Pardew in endorsing the players’ actions.
Whether the players will ultimately be forced to follow suit remains to be seen, but what is clear is that while the Championship have demonstrated unity with players and managers in their stand against racism, the Women’s Super League’s players have condemned the mass demonstrations planned for the World Cup.
The Women’s Super League has faced criticism for not having leadership at the top and for its response to allegations of racism within its ranks.
They have agreed in principle to changes for next season, with warm-up matches to no longer be held at controversial grounds before games, but there is little appetite among the players to follow suit and I heard just two supporters asking for it while at the Women’s World Cup final.
The players are united in defending what they have done and the players’ inaction is the clear indication they did not think anything was right with the FA, which needs players to create the winning performance to justify its investment.
To dismiss them in the way they have, especially if it means giving the impression they are wrong to do it, is unnecessary.