Micah Richards: On taking the knee, experience of racism and where to go next

Micah Richards: "I agree it needs more action, but at the same time, even if kneeling helps one person or changes just one person's mind, I still think it's the right thing to do."

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Micah Richards explains why he feels football players should still take the knee before matches, and his own experience of racism in relation to the Black Lives Matter movement.

After the effectiveness of the gesture was questioned by QPR director of football Les Ferdinand, Sky Sports pundit Micah Richards explained why he felt taking the knee was still "the right thing to do".

Richards was responding to Ferdinand's statement, issued earlier on Monday, that the 'message has been lost' from sides taking the knee before kick-off, following on from the Rs' players and their Coventry counterparts deciding against the move during their Sky Bet Championship game on Friday night.

In the weeks after American George Floyd died in police custody after being knelt on his neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds, an agreement between Sheffield United and Aston Villa players in the first Premier League game following the coronavirus restart in June saw both sides take the knee ahead of kick-off - a move which has since been largely followed across the division and the EFL.

Richards, who became a permanent Sky Sports pundit earlier this year, spoke of his own experiences with racism - in relation to the Black Lives Matter movement in particular - and where the movement should go from here.

On taking the knee...

"[Les Ferdinand] has had a very strong opinion. I've heard him talk about racial issues before and he speaks very well.

"But, it's difficult. He's got his opinion, and I respect his opinion, but at the same time the Premier League is one of the biggest leagues in the world.

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QPR manager Mark Warburton shares his views on the club's decision not to take a knee, following director of football Les Ferdinand's statement in which he said the message behind the gesture has been lost.

"To some people, who don't understand, even if you've got the players beforehand going down on the knee, people are going to start to ask questions and yes, we all want more action. Of course, we want more action, we want equality but it's not going to happen overnight.

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"When he says he wants more action, I'm totally with him but this is something that's been happening for hundreds of years and it's not going to change overnight.

"It is getting better. There have been so many people who have come out, not just black people, white people as well and talked about issues that maybe a couple of years ago they'd feel uncomfortable talking about.

"So, yes, I agree it needs more action, but at the same time, even if kneeling helps one person or changes just one person's mind, I still think it's the right thing to do."

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Coventry manager Mark Robins says that it was QPR's decision to not take a knee before their Championship clash on Friday night, and wants clarification on what the players should do moving forward.

On how long the movement continues...

"It's the magic question. How long do you want to take the knee for?

"But for me, you've got to do it until everyone agrees. You know what the problem is? Sometimes it feels like it's been forced on people and it's almost turning people the other way.

"White people now feel like they are getting tarnished with the racist brush and that's not fair.

"You read your Instagram, you read your Twitter and the first thing is: 'Why am I getting tarnished with that brush.'

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Earlier this month, England captain Harry Kane explained why the Three Lions would take the knee in their Nations League games with Denmark and Iceland.

"So, you're damned if you do, you're damned if you don't. Everyone has got their own opinions on how things can change but for me, we all need to just work together. We all need to understand there is a problem, not just at the lower level, at the top level and if a black person or an ethnic minority wants a chance, they've got to put themselves forward.

"I'm here, working for Sky Sports. One of the biggest corporations in the world and I'm here because I believed in myself. I love football, I love working with Jamie Carragher and I'm in a privileged position and I did this through hard work, and the hard work I put in is not going to be tarnished."

On how BLM has changed perceptions of him...

"Yes, [I feel the perception of me has changed through the Black Lives Matter movement]. I've got people on Twitter, I've got people on Instagram saying: 'Micah Richards is only on because of this Black Lives Matter movement'.

"But I've had conversations with corporations that I worked for way before this and now I'm getting tarnished with the same brush that I'm only on TV because of Black Lives Matter, which is disheartening for me because I put in the work.

"I work every single day at my craft. I've been a professional footballer, I've won a Premier League title, I've played at the highest level and I'm still getting stones thrown at me.

"If I've got to fly the flag, if people want to throw stones at me, I'll happily take it because I know I put in the work."

On social media abuse of Alex Scott...

"Alex Scott is incredible. She's one of the best I've ever worked with and it's even worse for her because she's a woman, and she's seen as black as well.

"It's double jeopardy. She's in a worse position. She is honestly one of the best pundits I have ever worked with and all you see on social media is: 'Why is a woman working in men's football? She doesn't know.'

"She's played however many times for England, she knows football inside out and more than most people, and to see the abuse that she gets just because someone's left their job or not had their contracts renewed, it's disheartening to see.

"But, at the same time, it just shows we've still got a problem and it's that awkward conversation we all don't want to have but we've got to have the conversation."

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