Wilfried Zaha has become the first Premier League player not to take the knee before a match, releasing a statement prior to kick off that explained his belief that the action is no longer making a difference to society.
The 28-year-old was true to his word prior to kick-off against West Bromwich Albion on Saturday afternoon, as he remained standing while every other player took the knee on the referee's whistle.
Zaha released a statement via his management company RocNation immediately after kick-off, explaining that 'whether we kneel or stand, some of us still continue to receive abuse.'
"My decision to stand at kick-off has been public knowledge for a couple of weeks now," the statement began. "There is no right or wrong answer but I feel kneeling has just become a part of the pre-match routine and at the moment it doesn’t matter whether we kneel or stand, some of us still continue to receive abuse.
"I know there is a lot of work being done behind the scenes at the Premier League and other authorities to make change, and I fully respect that, and everyone involved. I also fully respect my teammates and players at other clubs who continue to take the knee.
"As a society, I feel we should be encouraging better education in schools, and social media companies should be taking stronger action against people who abuse others online - not just footballers. I now just want to focus on football and enjoy being back playing on the pitch. I will continue to stand tall."
Zaha has often spoken out over the racial abuse he has received in the past, and this was highlighted in July 2020 after a 12-year-old boy was arrested for sending vile messages via social media.
Source : 90min