A Premier League club have become the first to stop taking the knee, continuing their stance following the backlash England have had recently.
The gesture has cause an increasingly-toxic divide amongst the football world – one which threatens to overshadow England’s Euros campaign.
Brentford, who were promoted to the world’s richest league after winning the Championship playoff final last month, stopped taking the knee back in February, stating it was no longer having an impact.
The Telegraph state that they have been told that, barring a major squad overhaul, it is highly unlikely they would resume doing so next season.
Discussions over whether other top flight clubs continue to take the knee are set to take place as close as possible to the start of the new campaign.
Brentford were one of a number of EFL teams to stop performing the gesture last term following talks led by their senior black players.
The squad said back then: “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. We believe we can use our time and energies to promote racial equality in other ways.
“As a group we are fully behind and proud of Brentford’s desire to become the most inclusive club in the country and the drive towards equality under the #BeeTogether banner. We have experienced racist abuse first hand and have also seen some appalling comments made to other players past and present. There is a clear need to continue to push for an end to all discrimination and, as players, we will be part of that at Brentford FC, in football in general and in the wider community.”
Ivan Toney, the club’s leading goalscorer, later explained the squad’s stance in an interview with talkSPORT, that it had been down to a lack of action taken to combat racism.
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“Everybody knows it’s not getting any better, it’s actually getting worse,” he said.
“You hear about it for a few days, it’s all out there in the papers, it’s on Twitter or whatever – then two days later, back to normal and nothing gets done.”
He added: “It’s kind of a boring cycle that we’re in. Whether it’s people on Twitter writing whatever rubbish, or being brave over a computer, nothing happens and they feel comfortable because they know nothing is going to happen.”
Shortly after Brentford stopped taking the knee, Wilfried Zaha then became the first Premier League player to do so, citing similar reasons.
The return of crowds through the turnstiles has seen players booed by fans for taking the knee, including during England’s Euro 2020 warm-up matches against Austria and Romania.
We also saw this on Tuesday night before Ireland kicked off their friendly against Hungary, something players have slammed.
Fans have ignored repeated pleas by Gareth Southgate and his players not to boo the pre-match ritual, which its advocates insist is a show of support for racial equality its critics claim is amounting to to an endorsement of the more radical policies of the Black Lives Matter movement.
The Premier League have declined to comment on Brentford’s likely refusal to take the knee however the Telegraph say they have been told it fully supports the right of individuals not to do so.
What did Wilfried Zaha say about stopping taking the stance?
“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.”
Fans have reacted after seeing that the new Premier League club have become the first to stop taking the knee…
You’ve got absolutely no idea why we no longer take the knee and it’s almost definitely not why you think. I’m pretty sure I speak for most Brentford fans when I say we want you absolutely nowhere near our club.
— All About Brentford (@allaboutthebees) June 8, 2021
@ben_mackrell: Why’s it such a big deal Nigel? If they have explicitly stated the reason and intention behind taking the knee, which is not a political act (it’s a social issue), then there is no problem. Just respect their view, and if someone else doesn’t do it, then that’s their choice.
@Enjoymyholiday: I’m a Brentford fan now
@MarkFletch117: Fair play @BrentfordFC
@leehump71: Up the brentford
@MrRoyle_Media: @BrentfordFC When you’re being praised by Nigel Farage it may be time to reconsider…
@barca_260599: Good on them.
@andywyatt61: Excellent news
@KEdge23: Well done to Brentford for saying they won’t take the knee next season. Can all clubs now do the same. The fans are fed up of having the political movement that is BLM dragged into sport. Enough of this nonsense now.
@darcybbc: Some of my family and friends are Brentford supporters, maybe I’ll join them next season! 👍🇬🇧🏴
@DavidMercian: I’m now a Brentford fan!