Wilfried Zaha: Crystal Palace forward will stop taking the knee before matches

Wilfried Zaha began his senior career with Crystal Palace in 2010

Crystal Palace forward Wilfried Zaha says he will stop taking the knee before games.

BBC Sport understands the 28-year-old will no longer follow the initiative adopted in the Premier League last season after the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement.

On Thursday Zaha said players “should stand tall”, reiterating his view that taking the knee is “degrading”.

“It’s becoming something that we just do now,” he added.

Zaha continued: “It feels like we are isolating ourselves from these things that are not working anyway.”

Last week, Zaha questioned the purpose of taking a knee before the start of matches while speaking to the On The Judy podcast.external-link

He also said: “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.”

Speaking at the FT Business of Football summit, he added: “Growing up, my parents let me know I should be proud to be black. We should stand tall.

“With taking a knee, sometimes people forget we have to do it. It is becoming something we just do. That is not enough for me.”

Zaha said he was wary of being used as a mouthpiece for the fight against racism, saying he is asked for interviews in order to “tick a box”.

Speaking on Zaha’s comments, Kick it Out’s head of development Troy Townsend told BBC Sport: “[Zaha’s comments] is not where we should be focusing the topic of conversation. If there wasn’t racism and underrepresentation in our game, Wilfried’s comments would land and nobody would worry about it.”

Townsend added: “What Wilf is trying to allude to is the fact players feel not enough is being done and not enough is being communicated to them about what is being done. They just want change because they’re tired, they’re fed up of having to have traumatic experiences around racism and discrimination and it gets to a point where you say what you want to say because for too long you’ve been told to be quiet.

“It doesn’t need to be rocket science. The players want to know that anyone caught racially abusing them faces severe consequences. They want to see a progression of action and the football authorities dealing with racism as they deal with some other topics. Football won’t need to do much to make players feel that it’s taking those actions.”

This week, Championship side Brentford said their players would stop taking a knee before games because they felt the gesture against discrimination no longer had the required impact.

On Friday, Bournemouth became the latest club to announce they would stop making the gesture, with QPR and Middlesbrough the two other sides in the league to have done so.

Cherries captain Steve Cook said: “We all strive to ensure that AFC Bournemouth is a club which welcomes anyone, regardless of their race, gender, sexuality or religion.

“Fighting all forms of discrimination and creating an equal, inclusive society is something that we feel very passionately about. But that is defined by much more than a gesture, which we feel has run its course and is no longer having the effect it first did eight months ago.

“Since football restarted last June we have taken the knee before every fixture. Instead, we will now stand before games; just as we stand together with our team-mates who have suffered racial abuse and as we stand with anyone who is subjected to any form of discrimination.”

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