Shortly after Barack Obama’s election as the first black president of the United States a Dutch sports journalist, Elke Kosmicki, penned a column in which she laid into footballers taking the knee.
“It seems to me that from now on the angry white men (after all, let’s face it, we are mostly angry white men – what else could we be) will have the power,” she wrote. “We will have the power to decide the colour of the nation’s leaders.”
Kosmicki, a sports journalist for NOS, had experienced abuse from conservative MPs and several footballers after writing her article, and remained targeted for many years, until finally making her deathbed declaration: “I’m done.”
One example of how divided opinion was within the Netherlands is the case of former Ajax and Chelsea captain Johan Cruyff, who was fired from his position as general manager at his own football club. There was a debate over whether he had crossed the line in calling for supporters to join the protest.
In the UK, Wimbledon champion Martina Navratilova has been a long-time supporter of the protest but was lambasted by sections of the media and the political establishment, before giving in and standing down from her role as LTA patron in the wake of angry criticism from British sports governing bodies, such as the British Olympic Association and the British Weightlifting Federation.
The tennis player Andy Murray believes his team should respect “the players that go out and make it possible for the game to take place” and in an interview with ITV News he said: “I’ve been approached with it for years. I was on the fence about it when it started but I have a job to do, I’m a professional athlete and I have to play on the field of play.”