Football Ferns kneel before opening Olympic match

The Football Ferns were among some of the first Olympic athletes to advocate for social justice after taking a knee before their opening match in Tokyo overnight.

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The action was possible thanks to new IOC guidelines on social justice and is fully backed by the NZOC. Source: TVNZ

The team confirmed prior to their match against Australia their intention to kneel before they faced Australia, joining the call for greater racial equality.

Rob Waddell, Chef de Mission for the New Zealand Olympic Committee, said the team had his full backing.

“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," Waddell said in a statement.

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

New Zealand take a knee for social justice prior to the Women's First Round Group G during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. Source: Getty

Unfortunately for the Ferns, the ensuing match didn't go as planned as they fell 2-1 to their trans-Tasman rivals in an already-difficult campaign.

The team next play world champions USA before finishing pool play against Rio silver medallists Sweden - who stunned the US 3-0 last night.

The team will either need to finish in the top two of their group or be one of the two best third-placed teams from the three women's pools in order to advance to the quarter-finals.