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Soccer: Bundesliga won’t punish players for George Floyd protests

The German Bundesliga said it will not punish players for on-field protests in support of George Floyd during last weekend’s soccer slate.

Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, was killed while handcuffed and pinned to the ground by a white police officer on May 25 in Minneapolis. His death has sparked protests throughout the United States and in Europe.

Borussia Dortmund’s Jadon Sancho and Achraf Hakimi revealed undershirts that read “Justice for George Floyd” after they scored goals in a win against Paderborn on Sunday in Paderborn, Germany.

Borussia Monchengladbach’s Marcus Thuram referenced Floyd after he scored during a 4-1 win against Union Berlin Sunday in Monchengladbach. Thurman scored before he knelt on the ground just outside the box. He also posted a message about Floyd on social media after the match.

American midfielder Weston McKennie, who plays for Schalke 04, wore an armband that read “Justice for George Floyd” during a 1-0 loss to Werder Bremen on Saturday in Gelsenkirchen.

Bundesliga rules prohibit players from political demonstrations and messages on equipment while they are on the field. The German Football Association, the governing body for soccer in Germany, said it would investigate the tributes after the matches. FIFA rules also stipulate the same guidelines against political and personal messages. FIFA President Gianni Infantino said Tuesday the Bundesliga should not punish the four players.

The German Football Association concluded that the players will not be be disciplined for the protests. They said they will take the same stance with additional protests.

“I welcome the control body’s forward-thinking decision and am very pleased with it,” German Football Association President Fritz Keller said in a statement. “The [association] is opposed to all forms of racism, discrimination and violence, and stands for tolerance, openness and diversity — all values that are also deeply ingrained with the [association] statutes.

“That’s why the players’ actions have our respect and understanding.”

More players could protest in a similar fashion in Bundesliga games this weekend and as other European soccer leagues return from coronavirus-related suspensions. The Football Association, which governs soccer in England, said it will use a “common sense approach” when it addresses the protests. Players from Premier League squads showed support for Floyd earlier this week as they trained.

Spain’s La Liga, which returns June 11, has not released a statement about Floyd-related protests but FC Barcelona star Lionel Messi has shown support for Floyd on social media.

Bundesliga play resumes with Monchengladbach in a game against Freiburg at 2:30 p.m. EDT Friday. The weekend slate includes five more games on Saturday and three games on Sunday.

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