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Bournemouth players will no longer take the knee before matches

The pre-match gesture has been a constant part of football since games resumed in June after the first coronavirus lockdown.

Bournemouth have joined fellow Sky Bet Championship side Brentford in deciding to no longer take the knee before games.

The pre-match gesture in support of the Black Lives Matter movement has been a constant part of football since games resumed in June after the first coronavirus lockdown.

Racist abuse of footballers has been widespread in recent weeks, but the Bournemouth squad feel the gesture has "run its course" and is no longer having the effect that it originally did.

A statement from Bournemouth captain Steve Cook said: "Following discussions between the squad and with senior staff members, we have decided to no longer take the knee before games, starting this weekend against Queens Park Rangers.

"At all levels, this club prides itself on its work around equality, diversity and inclusion and as a group of players we fully embrace this.

"We all strive to ensure that AFC Bournemouth is a club which welcomes anyone, regardless of their race, gender, sexuality or religion.

"Fighting all forms of discrimination and creating an equal, inclusive society is something that we feel very passionately about.

"But that is defined by much more than a gesture, which we feel has run its course and is no longer having the effect it first did eight months ago.

"Since football restarted last June we have taken the knee before every fixture. Instead, we will now stand before games; just as we stand together with our team mates who have suffered racial abuse and as we stand with anyone who is subjected to any form of discrimination."

Cook called for action from governing bodies and social media platforms to combat discrimination.

He said: "As footballers and role models we want to continue affecting change in a positive way but we also need support – from governing bodies and social media platforms, in particular – and want to see action rather than words or gestures.

"We will continue to use our positions within the local community and alongside the club's Community Sports Trust to promote equality and the message that football is for everyone.

"The Community Sports Trust delivers more than 100 workshops every year to school children around equality, diversity and inclusion.

"This coming week, as an ambassador of the Respect workshop, I will be helping reinforce those messages, and my team mates will continue to do so, too.

"We have to do more to create an equal society and we will do more."

Crystal Palace v Brighton and Hove Albion – Premier League – Selhurst Park
Crystal Palace's Wilfried Zaha (right) described kneeling before games as 'degrading'

Brentford's squad announced before last Sunday's league game against Barnsley that they would no longer take the knee, believing the demonstration is no longer having an impact.

QPR had previously decided not to take the knee before their game against Coventry in September, with director of football Les Ferdinand responding to criticism of that move by suggesting: "The taking of the knee has reached a point of 'good PR' but little more than that. The message has been lost."

Crystal Palace forward Wilfried Zaha described kneeling before games as "degrading" and said he did not want to speak about racism "unless action is going to happen".

Zaha also said he was not going to wear the Black Lives Matter slogan on the back of his shirt "because it feels like it's a target".

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Crystal Palace winger Wilfried Zaha pictured in September 2020
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Wilfried Zaha: 'Taking a knee before matches is degrading'

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