Soccer Aid players take the knee prior to kick-off in ITV charity match

Soccer Aid stars take the knee before the match begins

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Soccer Aid for UNICEF was back on Saturday evening as England faced off against the World XI all in the name of charity. With teams made up of former professionals and celebrities, ITV viewers tuned in to see Lee Mack bag the winner for the World XI and claim a 3-0 victory. However, prior to kick-off, the taking of the knee received a raucous cheer from those inside the stadium – although others at home were quick to express division over the gesture.

The taking of the knee has become a contentious topic among football fans ever since players began carrying out the gesture in the professional game last year.

While players and participants claim it’s a gesture against racial inequality, many spectators have expressed their disdain for it due to its connotations to groups such as BLM.

Nevertheless, the Soccer Aid team’s all took part in the gesture prior to kick off on Saturday evening.

As the ball was brought onto the pitch, commentator Sam Matterface said: “Well there is no other football match in the world that brings people together in all walks of life, from all different backgrounds onto one pitch with one common cause.

“And before we start, all participants will take the knee to ask for unity and racial equality because there is no room for racism.”

The crowd inside the Etihad Stadium in Manchester let out a huge cheer as the players carried out the gesture.

“And the crowd applauding,” co-commentator Iain Stirling said. “Lovely atmosphere in here today.”

And many viewers at home agreed, with hundreds taking to Twitter to applaud the moment.

“Nice touch by England and World XI by taking the knee #SoccerAid,” one fan said on Twitter.

A second agreed: “Taking the knee UNDERSTOOD or respected that all we ask…Well done the fans at the Etihad …Class  #SoccerAid.”

“That’s how you react to taking a knee #SoccerAid,” echoed a third.

While a fourth weighed in: “People cheering all the players taking the knee…LOVE to see it instead of boos [applause emoji] #SoccerAid.”

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However, others weren’t as on side with the gesture, with another arguing: “Rather not donate. No need for that knee take BS. F soccer aid @itv. Big virtue signaling fest #SoccerAid.”

“Taking the knee during a charity match keeping shoving it down our throats! #SoccerAid,” a second angrily blasted.

“’Soccer Aid’ taking the bloody knee #gtf,” argued a third.

While a fourth bluntly tweeted: “Taking a knee in the soccer aid game, ffs.” (Sic)

In the end, Soccer Aid for UNICEF managed to smash its previous record for donations.

After the game, it was revealed over £13million had been donated for the cause.

Love Island and Celebrity MasterChef star Kem Cetinay scored twice before Lee Mack added a third to make it a 3-0 victory for the World XI.

Soccer Aid for UNICEF is available to stream on ITV Hub now.

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