Patrick van Aanholt Q&A: Black Lives Matter, George Floyd and fighting racism

Crystal Palace defender speaks exclusively to SSN about Black Lives Matter, the death of George Floyd and fighting racism

Patrick van Aanholt joined Crystal Palace from Sunderland in January 2017 on a four-and-a-half-year deal 1:08
Crystal Palace defender Patrick van Aanholt says he is willing to take a knee before their Premier League match against Bournemouth in support of anti-racism campaigns

Patrick van Aanholt says he is "100 per cent prepared" to take a knee in his first game back in the Premier League.

The defender has told Sky Sports News he has been left "hurt" and "upset" by the death of George Floyd, who was killed after police officer Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds in Minneapolis on May 25.

Van Aanholt has been vocal in his support for anti-racist movements that have followed and has been in an ongoing Twitter argument with media personality Katie Hopkins.

He has now revealed he is ready to continue protests when the Premier League returns by taking a knee ahead of kick-off in Crystal Palace's first game back against Bournemouth on June 20.

Van Aanholt was speaking ahead of a nationwide 'take a knee' protest across the UK at 6.00pm on Wednesday evening.

preview image 1:15
People across the UK took a knee to show support for the Black Lives Matter movement on Wednesday

In an exclusive interview with Sky Sports News, Van Aanholt also says:

  • White team-mates have been asking 'how can we help?'
  • A lack of black coaches may put him off the future career
  • He wants his children to have a 'normal life' and not face racism

It's been a very difficult week. What have you made of the demonstrations?

"It's good to see so much unity from black and white people. It's good to get so much love and support."

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What do you feel when you see the video of George Floyd?

"I'm not going to lie, I was very upset. To think this is still going on in 2020 is crazy. Why is racism still a conversation in 2020? We are all one. It hurts me. It upsets me."

preview image 1:04
Ruud Gullit has launched an impassioned plea for football to spearhead a “revolution on racism” that establishes diversity both in the game and in society

You're a proud Dutch black man, how much racism have you endured?

"I've been lucky. I didn't have much. For me it has been okay, I've been blessed but that doesn't mean it doesn't happen. We all need to support each other."

Will you take a knee before your match against Bournemouth?

"I'm prepared to do it, 100 per cent. They've done it in Germany and [Premier League] teams have done it in training. We have a platform and as a global sport, we have to come together."

Why are people taking a knee?

The act has become a symbol of fighting racial injustice in the United States since 2016 when NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick took a knee during the national anthem to raise awareness of police brutality. 

President Donald Trump has maintained criticism of athletes for taking part in the protest, accusing them of "disrespecting the flag", but following Floyd's death 'taking a knee' has re-emerged as a mainstream form of anti-racism protest beyond sport.

Kaepernick has been unable to find a team since he began the protest. 

The NFL has now admitted it was wrong for "not listening to players earlier" and that it will "encourage all to speak out and peacefully protest". 

"We admit we were wrong," said NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. 

Have the players spoken about what's happened?

"Everyone has, not just the players. The manager has... the whole club. The white players are asking... how can we help?"

2:24
Kick It Out's Troy Townsend say English footballing bodies are failing when it comes to tackling the problem of racism

What was life like growing up in Holland?

"I grew up in a family of six. Four sisters, one brother. I moved to England at a young age so it was different, unlike other Dutch players as I had to get used to a different culture."

Raheem Sterling 2:37
Geraint Hughes discusses Raheem Sterling's latest comments supporting the racism protests and looks back at some of the incidents Sterling has dealt with

Would you like to get into coaching?

"I don't know. I had Chris Hughton, he was a great manager. I haven't had any other black coaches in my career."

Would the lack of black coaches put you off?

"A little bit, yeah. I don't know if I want to be a coach yet. Ashley Cole is trying. Seedorf got his badges then got sacked at AC Milan. I don't know why. Many black coaches have to start from the bottom and again, I don't know why."

preview image 1:29
John Barnes believes racist incidents will continue to happen, if the deeper issue of racism is not properly addressed at all levels

Can we all do more?

"Yeah. By reading more and seeing more you understand and do more. It's good we are all together now and coming together and seeing just how serious this is."

How good has it been to see Roy Hodgson again?

"Very good. We knew with his age he was high risk but he's missed us all. He still takes the training. Even during lockdown, he contacted everyone. It's so nice to be back."

Is the hope all of our children won't have to go on any demonstrations?

"Hopefully not. I want my children to have a normal life and not face racism and their children's children. As I said, this is 2020 and we are talking about racism. It's gone too far."

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