Crystal Palace’s Wilfried Zaha Stops Taking a Knee, Continues Fighting Racism

Zaha is the first Premier League player to stop kneeling

Crystal Palace v West Bromwich Albion - Premier League
Wilfried Zaha of Crystal Palace stands while the rest of players take a knee during the Premier League match between Crystal Palace and West Bromwich Albion.
Sebastian Frej/MB Media/Getty Images

Since the summer of 2020, Premier League fans have become accustomed to seeing players and officials take a knee before games as a protest against racism. Now, one Premier League player has opted to stand before games. Before Crystal Palace’s game against West Bromwich Albion, Crystal Palace forward Wilfried Zaha stood while the rest of his teammates knelt. As he describes it, his gesture is his own way of making an impact against racism.

“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,” Zaha said in a statement.

The Athletic has a good overview up of both Zaha’s position and where it fits into the larger picture of English soccer. The article notes that, while Zaha is the first Premier League player to stand, several teams in the second division also announced that their players would no longer kneel before games.

Zaha’s concerns about racism in soccer allude to a worrying trend: racist incidents in the sport are increasing. A growing number of Premier League players have been targeted by racists online, Zaha among them; last month, Arsenal’s Willian and Eddie Nketiah had to deal with racist online harassment.

It’s horrific that anyone should have to deal with this at any time, under any circumstances. Hopefully Zaha’s efforts to, in his own words, “stand tall against racism” will raise awareness of the issue of racist harassment and help accelerate its end.

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