Skip to content

Wilfried Zaha to stop taking a knee and praises Marcus Rashford's fight for social equality

Wilfried Zaha has spoken out against taking a knee and wants to use his high-profile platform to promote positive societal change; Crystal Palace winger talking at FT Business of Football Summit; Zaha also praised Marcus Rashford

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Wilfried Zaha says taking a knee is 'degrading' and that having 'Black Lives Matter' on the back of his shirt 'feels like it's a target'

Wilfried Zaha has reiterated his belief that taking a knee is "degrading" and has demanded players "stand tall" in the fight against racism.

Since Project Restart last summer, players, officials and staff at Premier League and EFL games have been taking a knee before kick-off to show support for the movement for racial equality.

Premier League clubs' shirts also carried the Black Lives Matter slogan during the restarted 2019-20 season before being changed for this season to feature a patch promoting the league's own anti-discrimination campaign No Room For Racism.

England manager Gareth Southgate believes the gesture is still hugely powerful and has not lost its message, but racist abuse of footballers on social media has been prevalent in recent weeks with several teams, including Brentford last weekend, stopping taking a knee.

Crystal Palace winger Zaha, speaking at the Financial Times' Business of Football summit, said: "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.

"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.

Also See:

"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."

Zaha urges more players to be like Rashford

While Zaha has not been as vocal on certain issues as other top-flight footballers such as Marcus Rashford, he believes he has a role to play to try and make a change.

He added: "I'm not really an activist but if I've got a platform to try and make a change, why not?

Marcus Rashford is one of several footballers to be racially abused on social media in recent weeks (AP)
Image: Zaha heaped praise on fellow footballer Marcus Rashford for inspiring change

"No matter how small my platform is compared to other people, I don't see why I would not say anything on something that means a lot to me and means a lot to other people so it's a thing where I feel like I have a duty to do what I can really.

"Marcus Rashford, he's got his platform there and he's pushed through to make things happen and some people just tell him to stick to football and stuff, but how can you say that if he's probably feeding your child?

"So obviously certain footballers will just play football and go home, but I feel like with the opportunity you have to broaden your horizon and do more, you only live once, why not? Then, if you can inspire people at the same time you're doing it - it's a win-win."

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Brentford striker Ivan Toney says players are being 'used as puppets' in taking a knee

'Players used as puppets'

Following Brentford's decision to stop making the anti-racism gesture before games, Bees striker Ivan Toney believes players are being "used as puppets" in taking a knee.

The Championship's top scorer with 24 goals told Sky Sports: "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."

'I feel sorry for the players'

Nottingham Forest striker Lyle Taylor is fully behind Zaha's stance and says "enough is enough" regarding the pre-game gesture.

"I feel sorry for them," said Taylor, when talking to LBC Radio about the players continuing to take a knee. "A white player cannot stand there and say I'm not taking the knee because of this or that, because they're branded racist."

Taylor added: "I've been racially abused by black people. When I came out and I said I'm not taking the knee, I was branded racist, branded an Uncle Tom, because I had an opinion that didn't sit with other black people."

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

England manager Gareth Southgate says taking a knee is still 'hugely powerful'

Show Racism the Red Card (SRtRC), the UK's largest anti-racism charity and celebrating its 25th anniversary, has released an educational film discussing the reasons behind the gesture and why they feel it should continue.

Leroy Rosenior, the charity's vice president, insists football must persist with the message.

"I know some people say it has run out of steam taking a knee and it is now not as impactful. I would say that we need to keep it in our conscience and at the front of our minds," the former QPR, West Ham and Fulham forward said.

"It needs to be a thread that runs through everything that we do. Even if it has lost its initial impact, it keeps it at the forefront of people's minds. We cannot take our eye off the ball."

Win £250,000 with Super 6!
Win £250,000 with Super 6!

Do not miss your chance to land the £250,000 in Saturday's Super 6 round. Play for free, entries by 3:00pm.

Around Sky