Premier League star Zaha to stop “taking the knee” at matches

Crystal Palace striker Wilfried Zaha has said he will no longer “take the knee” as the protest has lost its impact.

The Premier League player said he felt the action was “degrading”.

Instead, he suggested players “stand tall” in the fight to end racial inequality faced by black people.

Players in the English football leagues started kneeling before kick-off when professional games restarted in June.

The gesture came after the death of George Floyd in police custody in America.

Zaha told the Financial Times’ Business of Football summit that it was “no longer enough”.

The 28-year-old added:

“I’ve said before that I feel like taking the knee is degrading and stuff because growing up my parents just let me know that I should be proud to be black no matter what and I feel like we should just stand tall.

“I feel like taking the knee now, it’s becoming… we do it before games and even sometimes people forget that we have to do it before games.

“Trying to get the meaning behind it, it’s becoming something that we just do now and that’s not enough for me. I’m not going to take the knee.

“We’re isolating ourselves, we’re trying to say that we’re equal but we’re isolating ourselves with these things that aren’t even working anyway, so that’s my stand on it.”

He also said he would not wear the Black Lives Matter logo on his shirt as “it feels like it’s a target”.

Last week, Brentford FC decided to stop making the anti-racism gesture before games.

Ivan Toney

Striker Ivan Toney said the gesture was allowing “people at the top” to rest on the subject and that nothing had changed as a result.

He added: “We have had a long discussion about that; why we are not taking a knee.

“Everyone has had their say, and everyone agrees [that] we have been taking the knee for however long now and still nothing has changed.

“We are kind of being used as puppets, in my eyes; take the knee and the people at the top can rest for a while now, which is pretty silly and pretty pointless. Nothing is changing.

“The punishments need to be stronger.

“You’re going to do so much, and, in a way, you have to get that helping hand, but it doesn’t look like it’s coming at the moment.

“So, you have to push for that and hopefully things change.”

About the Author

Philip Braund spent 16 years at the Daily Mirror as a reporter and news editor before moving to ITV. He was the series producer of the ground-breaking investigation programme The Cook Report, Managing Editor at ITV’s Millbank Studios, and Head of News at ITV Central. He has won national and regional Royal Television Society awards for documentaries.