The starting lineup of Hertha Berlin dropped to one knee before a match against Schalke on Saturday to show solidarity with the recent NFL protests. The move was not a surprise, and the announcer explained to fans what was going on. “Berlin is colorful,” the announcer said. “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.”
One slight difference with the NFL protests that have caused so much controversy lately? The German national anthem isn’t played before Bundesliga games, and in fact isn’t customary at all in league games throughout Europe.
“We wanted to make a stand against racism,” Hertha’s captain, Per Skjelbred, said after the team lost the game 2-0.
The move by the Hertha players is believed to mark the first time a European soccer team has expressed solidarity with the U.S. protests. But they were not the first soccer players to take a knee. Most notably, players in the National Women’s Soccer League in the United States have also taken a knee during the anthem. National soccer team player Megan Rapinoe was one of the first to express solidarity with the NFL protests until the U.S. Soccer Federation implemented a policy that essentialy required players to stand during the anthem.