PREMIER LEAGUE

Wilfried Zaha, the first Premier League player to stop taking the knee: "It's become routine..."

The Crystal Palace forward explained the reasons behind his decision a few weeks ago but only returned from injury for today's game against West Brom.

Zaha no se arrodilló antes del partido contra el West Brom.
Mike Hewitt Getty Images

Wilfried Zaha became the first Premier League player to not take the knee before kick-off - a gesture which was adopted last year to show solidarity with the Black Lives Matter campaign and combat racism in sport. The Crystal Palace forward had explained his decision to stop taking the knee before games a few weeks ago but injury has kept him out of the team until today's meeting with West Brom, when he stood while the other 21 players went down on one knee.

"I will continue to stand tall" - Zaha

In a statement, Zaha explained his decision: "There is no right or wrong decision, but for me personally 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 team mates 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".