‘Taking the knee is degrading, we should stand tall’

Wilfried Zaha takes the knee

(POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Wilfried Zaha has become the first Premier League player to decide to stop taking the knee prior to matches. The Crystal Palace talisman has reiterated his belief that the gesture is “degrading” and that black players should “stand tall”.

Players, staff and officials have taken the knee since Project Restart last summer in a display of solidarity following the killing of George Floyd by an American police officer. However, Queens Park Rangers and Brentford are among the EFL clubs to have stopped taking the knee in recent weeks, claiming the act has been reduced to an empty gesture.

Zaha, who is regularly subjected to racist abuse online, added that he did not want to wear Black Lives Matter on his shirt as “it feels like a target”.

“Obviously 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,” Zaha said, speaking at Thursday’s Financial Times’ Business of Football summit.

“Because 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, I’m not going to wear Black Lives Matter on the back of my shirt because it feels like it’s a target.

“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. I feel like we should stand tall and now I don’t really tend to speak on racism and stuff like that because I’m not here just to tick boxes.”

He added: “Unless action is going to happen, don’t speak to me about it.”

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