Players kneeled in support of the Black Lives Matter movement and victims of the coronavirus were remembered as the Premier League made a somber return on Wednesday from a 100-day shutdown that deprived England of its national sport. Back on the sideline at Manchester City was Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta, whose positive COVID-19 test in March led to the longest suspension of the top-flight competition since World War II. Fans are still prohibited from attending stadiums. Britain is still trying to contain one of the world's worst outbreaks of the coronavirus while also convulsed by a reckoning over racial injustice that roused the campaigning passion and anger of Premier League players following the death of George Floyd, the AP reports.
The message "Black Lives Matter" replaced player names on jerseys during City's 3-0 victory over Arsenal and Aston Villa's 0-0 draw with Sheffield United. The symbolic move that will continue in this weekend's round of games is being accompanied by demands from players for substantive changes to end discrimination and promote diversity. After the opening whistle blew in the first game at Villa Park, every player took a knee in a tribute to Floyd. In Manchester, the same gesture took place just before kickoff. Of the five biggest soccer leagues in Europe, England is the fourth to get back on the field. Germany was first last month, while Spain and Italy resumed this month. France canceled the remainder of its season while the virus was still peaking—as did England's neighbor, Scotland.
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