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Wilfried Zaha Becomes First Premier League Player To Say He Won’t Take The Knee

Wilfried Zaha Becomes First Premier League Player To Say He Won’t Take The Knee

Wilfried Zaha is the first Premier League footballer to confirm that he won't take the knee, saying he will "stand tall" instead.

The Crystal Palace forward explained that he believes the anti-racism protest, widely seen before kick-offs at matches, has lost its power - and that he won't be participating when he returns to action following a thigh injury.

"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," Zaha said at the FT Business of Football conference per the Guardian.

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"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."

The 28-year-old had spoken last week about how he found the action "degrading" and claimed it wasn't changing anything. But this is the first time he's confirmed he's choosing not to take a knee.

"The whole kneeling down - why must I kneel down for you to show that we matter?" Zaha said on the On The Judy podcast a week ago.

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"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, because unless things change. I'm not coming to chat to you just for the sake of it, like all the interviews I've done.

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Wilfried Zaha Says Taking Knee Every Week And Wearing BLM Shirts Is ‘Degrading’

"All these platforms - you see what's happening, you see people making fake accounts to abuse black people constantly, but you don't change it.

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"So don't tell me to come and chat about stuff that's not going to change. Change it."

Zaha, who's been subject to disgusting racist abuse in the past, also revealed at the FT Business of Football conference that his mother has encouraged him to pay 10% of his earnings to charity ever since he was 16.

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The Ivory Coast international suggests that the protests have failed to make an impact on the amount of racial abuse footballers are getting, particularly online.

Players at Brentford, the club currently second in the Championship, have also decided not to take a knee before kick-off.

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In a club statement they explained why, stating: "We have been taking a knee before games since June but, like many of our fellow players at other clubs, no longer believe that this is having an impact.

"We believe we can use our time and energies to promote racial equality in other ways."

All imagery: PA Images

Topics: Black Lives Matter, Football, Wilfried Zaha, Premier League, Crystal Palace

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Alex Reid

Alex Reid is a writer at SPORTbible who’s previously strung words together for FourFourTwo, Boxing News, The Guardian and, yes, Cruise International (it’s about big ships, not Tom). Interests range from football and boxing to real sports like WWE and darts. He is not a cage fighter.