Fifa asks leagues to use 'common sense' as sport protests over George Floyd death

Move marks a change from a previous strong line against players displaying messages on the field

TOPSHOT - Dortmund's English midfielder Jadon Sancho shows a "Justice for George Floyd" shirt as he celebrates after scoring his team's second goal during the German first division Bundesliga football match SC Paderborn 07 and Borussia Dortmund at Benteler Arena in Paderborn on May 31, 2020.  - DFL REGULATIONS PROHIBIT ANY USE OF PHOTOGRAPHS AS IMAGE SEQUENCES AND/OR QUASI-VIDEO 
 / AFP / POOL / Lars Baron / DFL REGULATIONS PROHIBIT ANY USE OF PHOTOGRAPHS AS IMAGE SEQUENCES AND/OR QUASI-VIDEO

World football's governing body Fifa has asked competition organisers to use "common sense" with players who show messages of protest over the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man killed in police custody in the United States.

The move, which marks a change from a previous strong line against players displaying messages on the field, came as athletes and sports figures around the world made their views on the situation in the United States clear.

Fifa regulations bar players from a display of any "political, religious or personal slogans, statements or images". Since 2014, this ban has included undershirts – a response to players lifting up their shirts to display a message after scoring a goal.

But several players paid no heed during matches in Germany's Bundesliga at the weekend, with Borussia Dortmund's Jadon Sancho and Achraf Hakimi displaying the message, "Justice for George Floyd" on their undershirts.

The German Football Association (DFB) has said it was reviewing the incidents.

England international Sancho was shown a yellow card after removing his shirt but the DFB said it was not due to his message but because he broke the rules on removing shirts.

In a statement on Tuesday, Fifa said it "fully understands the depth of sentiment and concerns expressed by many footballers in light of the tragic circumstances of the George Floyd case".

It added that applying the laws of the game was the responsibility of competition organisers, such as domestic leagues, who Fifa said "should use common sense and have in consideration the context surrounding the events".

"Fifa had repeatedly expressed itself to be resolutely against racism and discrimination of any kind ... Fifa itself has promoted many anti-racism campaigns which frequently carry the anti-racism message at matches organised under its own auspices," they said.

On Tuesday, Newcastle United players posed taking a knee, in the style of former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who popularised the gesture as a way to protest racial issues. This followed a similar tribute by Moenchengladbach's Marcus Thuram, son of France's 1990 World Cup winner Lilian Thuram, against Union Berlin in Bundesliga.

Liverpool players had done the same on Monday and several players made statements on social media. Boxing great Floyd Mayweather Jr will pay for the funeral services for George Floyd, his company's chief executive Leonard Ellerbe said.

Former West Indies captain Darren Sammy has urged cricket's global governing body and its member nations to speak out against social injustice.

"@ICC and all the other boards are you guys not seeing what's happening to ppl like me? Are you not gonna speak against the social injustice against my kind..." Sammy said in a series of tweets.

"Now is not the time to be silent. I wanna hear u," the St Lucia all-rounder, who led West Indies to Twenty20 World Cup titles in 2012 and 2016, said.

His former teammate Chris Gayle also posted a statement on social media, saying "Black life matters just as any other life!"

Gayle said he had experienced racist abuse himself during the course of his long career. "Even within teams as a Black man I get the end of the stick," he said.

The England and Wales Cricket Board tweeted a photo of wicket-keeper Jos Buttler, spinner Adil Rashid and their Barbados-born quick Jofra Archer with the message: "We stand for diversity, We stand against racism."

Formula One drivers followed Lewis Hamilton's lead on Monday after he criticised those in what he called the "white dominated sport" for failing to speak out about Floyd's death.

Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc said on Twitter he had felt "out of place and uncomfortable" sharing his thoughts on social media about the situation but realised he had been "completely wrong".

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