Crystal Palace forward Wilfried Zaha raised eyebrows when he became the first player in the Premier League to not take a knee prior to Saturday's game against West Brom. Zaha explained that decision in a statement prior to the game, explaining he feels kneeling has become "a part of a pre-match routine," and has not stopped racial abuse.
Zaha's full statement read:
"My decision to stand at kick-off has been public knowledge for a couple of weeks now. There is no right or wrong decision, but for me personally I feel kneeling has just become a part of the pre-match routine and at the moment it doesn’t matter whether we kneel or stand, some of us still continue to receive abuse.
"I know there is a lot of work being done behind the scenes at the Premier League and other authorities to make change, and I fully respect that, and everyone involved. I also fully respect my teammates and players at other clubs who continue to take the knee.
"As a society, I feel we should be encouraging better education in schools, and social media companies should be taking stronger action against people who abuse others online - not just footballers.
"I now just want to focus on football and enjoy being back playing on the pitch. I will continue to stand tall."
Players in the Premier League have been taking a knee before matches since George Floyd's death last May.
Wilfried Zaha discussed frustration in February
Zaha said he was tired of kneeling during an interview on the "On the Judy" podcast in February. Zaha explained that he shouldn't need to kneel or wear "Black Lives Matter" on his jersey to show others Black people matter, according to the Daily Mail.
"The whole kneeling down - why must I kneel down for you to show that we matter? Why must I even wear Black Lives Matter on the back of my top to show you that we matter? This is all degrading stuff.
"When people constantly want to get me to do Black Lives Matter talks and racial talks and I'm like, 'I'm not doing it just so you can put Zaha spoke for us'. Like a tick box, basically.
"I'm not doing any more."
Zaha added that kneeling and wearing "Black Lives Matter" on his jersey were just "charades" and not something that would actually create meaningful change.
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