Wilfried Zaha: Why Crystal Palace star didn't take the knee before game vs West Brom


Wilfried Zaha became the first Premier League player not to take the knee before a match when Crystal Palace hosted West Brom on Saturday.

Last month, Zaha insisted that he will no longer take the knee as he believes the protest has lost its impact.

Since those comments, the winger has been injured and hasn’t been able to follow through.

However, after being named in the starting line-up by Roy Hodgson on Saturday, Zaha stood tall while all players around him knelt.

Shortly after kick-off, a statement was released that read:  "My decision to stand at kick-off been public knowledge for couple of weeks now. No right or wrong but I feel kneeling just become a part of pre-match routine + at moment 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 society feel we should be encouraging better education in schools + social media companies should be taking stronger action against people who abuse others - not just footballers - online . Now want to focus on football + enjoy playing. I will continue to stand tall."

In February, the 28-year-old said: "I've said before that I feel like taking the knee is degrading and stuff because growing up my parents just let me know that I should be proud to be black no matter what and I feel like we should just stand tall.


"I feel like taking the knee now, it's becoming... we do it before games and even sometimes people forget that we have to do it before games.

"Trying to get the meaning behind it, it's becoming something that we just do now and that's not enough for me. I'm not going to take the knee.

"We're isolating ourselves, we're trying to say that we're equal but we're isolating ourselves with these things that aren't even working anyway, so that's my stand on it."

He also said he would not wear the Black Lives Matter slogan on his shirt as "it feels like it's a target".

Championship side Brentford have also stopped taking the knee before matches with striker Ivan Toney explaining the decision.

"We have had a long discussion about that; why we are not taking a knee," he told Sky Sports.

"Everyone has had their say, and everyone agrees [that] we have been taking the knee for however long now and still nothing has changed.


"We are kind of being used as puppets, in my eyes; take the knee and the people at the top can rest for a while now, which is pretty silly and pretty pointless. Nothing is changing.

"The punishments need to be stronger. You're going to do so much, and, in a way, you have to get that helping hand, but it doesn't look like it's coming at the moment. So you have to push for that and hopefully things change."


Meanwhile, earlier this week Premier League CEO Richard Masters said players will continue to take the knee until the end of the season.

"Going back to Project Restart, when we were talking to players, they wanted to make a statement about their thanks to the NHS and key workers and to make a stand against the events in America last summer," he said.

"We were happy to support the players. Perhaps for the first time, we had the Premier League, clubs and players on the same page on an important issue.

"Anti-discrimination is something we are really committed to. Last week we announced our 'No Room for Racism' action plan. Unfortunately, we have had to take on the social media companies with regards to online abuse.


"You will see for the rest of this season more anti-racism messages on player's shirts and the continuation of taking the knee until the end of the season.

"It has never been an instruction, it has always been a personal choice. We have had remarkable unanimity up to this point and I expect that to continue.

"We will discuss with the players in the close season what we are going to do to continue to make our feelings clear about anti-discrimination messaging going forward."

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