Wilfried Zaha becomes first Premier League player vowing to stop taking a knee
Zaha said the protest was "degrading"
Wilfried Zaha has said he intends to "stand tall" instead of taking a knee when he returns from injury, explaining the protest and the meaning behind it does not go far enough.
The gesture, popularised by NFL star Colin Kaepernick as a way to protest racial inequality, was approved for use by players by the Premier League during last season. Since then, players have taken a knee before kick-off in all top-flight games.
Zaha, however, has become the first player in the league to indicate he will not be doing it. Speaking at the FT Business of Football conference, the 28-year-old said:
"I feel like taking a knee is degrading. 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."
As well as approving the gesture last summer, the Premier League also saw "Black Lives Matter" printed on the backs of shirts in place of player surnames. A logo with the same message also appeared on sleeves, but has since been replaced with a new slogan of "No Room For Racism".
"I’m not going to wear Black Lives Matter on the back of my shirt because it feels like it’s a target," Zaha added.
He also explained that he believed the recent high-profile examples of black players receiving racist abuse online was evidence the gestures and protests had not worked.
"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."