Before their Valentine’s day clash with Barnsley, EFL Championship side, Brentford, released a statement detailing their decision to stop “taking the knee” before kick-offs. Since June 2020, professional football clubs from all around the world have been “taking the knee” before their games in support of the Black Lives Matter movement in response to the killing of George Floyd in May. The Brentford ownership, staff and players have chosen to halt this gesture, as it is “no longer having an impact.”
In their official statement, the club explains, “As a group of players, we have decided we will no longer take a knee before the start of matches,” the statement read, “This decision has come after lengthy discussions as a group. 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.” Brentford aren’t the only club in the Championship to halt the gesture, Bournemouth have also elected to stop their participation in the movement as they too believe “it is not having the same impact.”
Ivan Toney, who is the Championship’s top scorer has explained why the decision was made. “We have had a long discussion about that; why we are not taking a knee,” he told Sky Sports, before elaborating, “Everyone has had their say, and everyone agrees [that] we have been taking the knee for however long now and still nothing has changed.” Besides nothing changing, Toney has other concerns regarding the demonstration, “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.”
In the English Premier League, Crystal Palace star, Wilfried Zaha, has also decided to opt out of “taking the knee”, saying, “The whole kneeling down – why must I kneel down for you to show that we matter,” Zaha explained, “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.” Zaha is also refusing to comment on the matter any further until something is done, saying, “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. So, don’t tell me to come and chat about stuff that’s not going to change. Change it. All that stuff that you lot are doing; all these charades mean nothing.”
Most clubs will continue to demonstrate their support for Black Lives Matter, but others are choosing to take a stand in their own way.