The Premier League resumed after a three-month hiatus, with players taking the knee at the start of a goalless draw between Aston Villa and Sheffield United overshadowed by a goalline controversy.
Aston Villa and Sheffield United drew 0-0 on Wednesday as the Premier League returned to action after a 100-day hiatus due to Covid-19 with strong anti-racism statements and immediate controversy.
Technology was thrust back into the spotlight as the visitors appeared to be denied a goal at an empty Villa Park, when Villa goalkeeper Orjan Nyland looked as if he had carried the ball over the goalline.
The players and match officials all took a knee on the opening whistle as the league formally joined worldwide protests against racism, sparked by the death of George Floyd in America.
The players’ names on the back of their shirts were replaced with the words ‘Black Lives Matter’ and there was a moment’s silence before kickoff in memory of those who died in the Covid-19 health crisis, which included the father of Villa manager Dean Smith.
💙 In recognition of NHS workers, an NHS badge will feature on player shirts for the remainder of the season
✊🏽✊🏾✊🏿 For the first 12 matches, player names on shirts will be replaced by Black Lives Matter. A sleeve patch will feature on shirts for the rest of the season pic.twitter.com/77k4Nqf8ba
— Premier League (@premierleague) June 17, 2020
The home side enjoyed a let-off just before the break when an off-balance Nyland caught a curling free kick but was bundled back over the line by teammate Keinan Davis in a clumsy defensive mix-up.
Yet the referee, pointing to his watch, looked to indicate that goalline technology had not verified the ball had crossed the line, despite what appeared to be clear evidence on TV replays.
There was no intervention from VAR. A signal usually beeps on the match official’s watch to confirm if the ball has crossed the line.