Wilfried Zaha has become the first Premier League footballer to say he will not take a knee because he believes the protest is no longer sufficient.
The Crystal Palace forward instead pledged to “stand tall” when he returns after injury. “I feel like taking a knee is degrading,” he told the FT Business of Football conference. “Growing up my parents just let me know that I should just be proud to be black, no matter what, and I just think we should stand tall.
“I think the meaning behind the whole thing is becoming something that we just do now. That’s not enough. I’m not going to take the knee.”
At the start of this season the Premier League distanced itself from Black Lives Matter by replacing its logo with No Room for Racism on shirts. Zaha said: “I’m not going to wear Black Lives Matter on the back of my shirt because it feels like it’s a target.”
Zaha, who revealed his mother has made him pay 10% of his money to charity since he was 16, also suggested the racism black players are continuing to suffer online suggested the protests had not made a difference.
“We are trying to say we are equal but these things are not working,” he said. “Unless there’s change, don’t ask me about it. Unless action is going to happen I don’t want to hear about it.”
Brentford’s players stopped taking the knee at the weekend after deciding football’s anti-discrimination gesture “no longer” has impact. In September QPR’s director of football, Les Ferdinand, said the impact of the gesture had become diluted, comparing it to “a fancy hashtag or a nice pin badge”.
A survey by the Professional Footballers’ Association in December found there was still overwhelming support among players for taking a knee before kick-off. On Wednesday the England manager, Gareth Southgate, insisted the gesture was still hugely powerful in keeping the fight against racial inequality and injustice at the forefront of people’s minds.
“Every player that does is very clear that the protest is against the lack of opportunity, it is anti-racism, it is supporting our teammates and staff that work with us,” he said. “It is a unifying act every time I see it. Although I heard people saying it is becoming less impactful, I didn’t feel that because every time I go to a game and I see it I think it is hugely powerful.”