James Tavernier pens open letter to Rangers fans asking them to back 'taking the knee'

James Tavernier has written an open letter to Rangers supporters asking them to back the players taking the knee this season in support of racial equality.

Rangers captain James Tavernier taking the knee prior to a game. Picture: SNS
Rangers captain James Tavernier taking the knee prior to a game. Picture: SNS

The club captain makes it abundantly clear the Ibrox stars are not doing so to support any sort of political movement, but in order to highlight the ongoing problem of racism in both football and wider society.

The symbol, which became popular in football after the murder of unarmed black man George Floyd at the hands of a Minnesota police officer last year, has become increasingly divisive with some prominent figures in British society, including politicians, accusing those taking part of supporting ‘Marxism’.

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Booing of players taking the knee occurred in the build-up and some games at Euro 2020, including England’s opener against Croatia.

Tavernier has called on the Rangers support to rally behind their players, particularly in the wake of the racial abuse team-mate Glen Kamara suffered on the pitch during the Europa League loss to Slavia Prague last season.

The club also took part in a couple of social media silence initiatives last season in protest at the abuse players were taking online, with every BAME member of the squad racially abused through social media at some point in the campaign.

Tavernier’s letter read in full:

"Dear season ticket holder,

“The last 16 months have been difficult, right across the world. Every single person has been impacted, with some losing their very lives from Covid. We cannot forget that we must use this opportunity to create as much positivity and unity within our famous ground.

“We brought home ‘55’ last season, in almost record time. However, there were some dark and difficult moments along the way. Sadly, at some stage during the season, every one of our BAME players received racist abuse online. That is a sad indictment on society and shows just how much work still needs to be done to eradicate it. Add in the fact one of our players received sickening racist abuse on the pitch. Racism is a problem in football, that is an inarguable fact.

“As a team and as a club, we must not only stand up against racism, but fight against it – every single day. Whenever our players were abused last season, the way in which our fanbase stood behind us was nothing short of amazing.

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“Many people have given arguments for and against certain political organisations. Arguments against their actions, and what they purport to stand for. I’ve no interest in all that, neither do my teammates or coaching staff. We will take the knee to stand against racism, nothing more, and nothing less.

“That is why we will take the knee prior to our games. This is a very simple, but we hope, effective gesture. It is a symbolic stance against racism, nothing more and nothing less.

“At the start of each game this season, and throughout the 90 minutes, please show the world exactly why you are a special fan base. Support every player who is proud to wear the badge of the famous RFC.

“We are as strong as strong can be.

“I cannot wait to hear you roar from the stands of Ibrox Park.”

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