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First Team

Hodgson: Zaha backed by teammates

13 March 2021

Wilfried Zaha did not to take a knee before Crystal Palace's game with West Bromwich Albion at Selhurst Park on Saturday afternoon, something manager Roy Hodgson said he is fully supported in doing.

Zaha explained his decision in a statement pre-match, which read: "My decision to stand at kick-off has been public knowledge for a couple of weeks now.

"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 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."

Following the game, manager Roy Hodgson expressed his and his players' understanding of Zaha's decision and explained that each of them respect his actions.

"I read his statement," Hodgson said, "which I thought was very well put together and very articulate. I think it’s a statement which a lot of us would agree with - that is basically what we’re trying to get across, and we’re trying to get it across by taking the knee.

"But Wilf’s not alone now in being a person who thinks maybe taking the knee has become a bit of ritual rather than a massive statement.

"So he’s chosen himself to take this step which puts him out of the bubble of knee takers and [given him] the chance to make the statement he made to show how strongly he disapproves of what’s been going on and what is still happening, unfortunately, in terms of abuse and racial abuse in particular. We’re all behind that.

"He cleared it with rest of the players and the rest of the players decided: ‘We’ll carry on taking the knee to show that we care too. But we fully respect that you want to go, in your eyes, one step further. We are more than happy for you to do that as long as you accept that the publicity will come your way, the questions will come your way and you’ll have to stand in the vanguard and answer them.’"

Palace captain Luka Milivojevic echoed these views post-match, saying: "We spoke yesterday a little about it and I support him 100%.

"I want to say that we are taking the knee to show an example to people that we are against racism and that example can be maybe when kids watch football with their families and kids are always asking questions. They can ask: ‘Why are those players doing that?’ So it’s a perfect time to explain.

"Wilfried’s gone a little bit further; he did it in the other way and, as his teammate, I respect him 100%. I know what he’s fighting for."

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