Tokyo Olympics: Football Ferns to join anti-racism movement by taking knee before Games opener against Australia

  • 21/07/2021

New Zealand's Football Ferns will join the global movement for greater racial equality in sport by taking a knee moments before their opening match at the Tokyo Olympics against Australia on Wednesday.

New Zealand Olympic Committee Chef de Mission Rob Waddell says he fully backs the players, as they become some of the first Olympic athletes to advocate for social justice under new International Olympic Committee guidelines.

"We are delighted that the IOC has made room for athletes to use their voices for good at the Olympic Games and are proud of our athletes for making a global stand for greater racial equality," says Waddell.

"We fully support athlete advocacy where the New Zealand Team values are upheld.

Racism in football has been a hot topic in recent weeks. Earlier this month, a trio of black England players were victims of rampant abuse on social media, after missing their penalty attempts in the Euro 2020 final against Italy.

The NZ women have been drawn in what has been labelled the 'group of death' in Japan, alongside world champions USA, Rio 2016 silver medallists Sweden, and the formidable Australians.

"Any other time we come up against this calibre of competition, we trust ourselves," says star striker Hannah Wilkinson. 

"It's like what Tom [Sermanni] said, despite being apart for 16 months, we still have such a good, strong base as a unified group.

"That's something that we tend to have an advantage over teams in that way. We've been together for so long. Each one of us has very good relationships on the field, just because we've played together for so long."

Join us at 11:30pm, Wednesday for live updates of Football Ferns v Australia