The action was meant to show solidarity with National Football League players who have been protesting police treatment of blacks and social injustice in the U.S.by kneeling, sitting or locking arms through the anthem before games.
As the players and staff knelt, a stadium announcer explained the gesture to fans.
The club's starting lineup linked arms and took a knee on the pitch, while coaching staff, officials and substitutes took a knee off it. NFL players have been demonstrating against discrimination in the U.S. by kneeling, sitting or locking arms during the national anthem before games. "Berlin is colorful", the announcer said. "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".
"Hertha BSC stands for tolerance and responsibility!"
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The protest spread to baseball when Oakland Athletics catcher Bruce Maxwell became the first MLB player to kneel for the anthem. "For a tolerant Berlin, both now and forevermore".
Last year, then-San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick started the movement, which has been harshly criticized by President Donald Trump. Players in other American leagues, such as the WNBA, NBA, have also spoke out against discrimination and racism.
The demonstration was not done during the playing of the German national anthem, because the German national anthem is not routinely played before Bundesliga matches. Its matchday squad featured 10, and its starting lineup featured seven.
There's no record of European soccer teams taking a knee before Saturday, but Hertha BSC members are not the first in the sport to join the protest.