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German soccer team Hertha BSC kneels before game for 'tolerance and responsibility'

By
Alex Butler
Players kneel down before the German Bundesliga soccer match between Hertha BSC vs FC Schalke 04 on Saturday in Berlin, Germany. Photo by Clemens Bilan/EPA-EFE
Players kneel down before the German Bundesliga soccer match between Hertha BSC vs FC Schalke 04 on Saturday in Berlin, Germany. Photo by Clemens Bilan/EPA-EFE

Oct. 14 (UPI) -- Kneeling before sporting events has spread to Europe after German soccer squad Hertha BSC performed the gesture on Saturday.

All of the players, coaches and trainers went down to one knee before Hertha's 2-0 Bundesliga loss to Schalke 04 at Olympiastadion in Berlin.

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"Hertha BSC stands for tolerance and responsibility! For a tolerant Berlin and an open-minded world, now and forevermore! #TakeAKnee #hahohe," the squad wrote on Twitter.

The national anthem did not appear to be playing during the gesture, according to a video posted on Instagram.

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"We live in times in which football clubs, who are very much in the spotlight, must work out how to position themselves, and this is in tune with the values and the philosophy of Hertha Berlin," sporting executive Michael Preetz told reporters after the game, according to ESPN.

"I've been here for 21 years, and we've always been against discrimination of any kind and against racism. We are Berlin. We are an open-minded city, and we stand for diversity, and that's what the team and the club wanted to stand up for today."

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Hertha's Sebastian Langkamp spoke to Sky Sports about the gesture.

"We are living in the 21st century, not the 18th century, but there are some people who haven't developed their ideologies accordingly," Langkamp said.

"If we can give them a bit of help in doing so, then that's good."

Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick began the practice of kneeling during the national anthem in 2016 in the United States to protest police brutality and racial inequality. Players, coaches and owners from around the league have since adopted the gesture of kneeling or link arms before and during the song.

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