Zaha becomes the first PL player to stand instead of taking a knee before kick-off
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Zaha becomes the first PL player to stand instead of taking a knee before kick-off

Wilfried Zaha has become the first Premier League player this season to stand instead of taking a knee before kick-off.

The Crystal Palace forward has previously described the gesture as “degrading” and has challenged football authorities to do more to tackle racism.

Zaha pledged to “stand tall” instead and the 28-year-old was as good as his word before Palace’s Premier League clash with West Brom on Saturday, staying on two feet as 21 other players and the referee knelt.

Speaking to the Financial Times’ Business of Football summit, Zaha explained: “I’ve said before that I feel like taking the knee is degrading and stuff.

“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 added that he would no longer wear the Black Lives Matter slogan shirt, saying ‘it feels like it’s a target’.

Since the football restart last year, players up and down the country have shown solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement by kneeling before kick-off.

This was part of a global outcry for racial equality which was sparked by the death of George Floyd in the United States earlier this year.

However, not all agree with the gesture as an adequate means of conveying this message, hence Zaha’s decision.