QPR director of football Les Ferdinand says the message behind ‘taking a knee’ has been lost after the club’s players were criticised for not making the gesture at the weekend.
Players from QPR and Coventry City did not take a knee prior to their match on Friday, the first time that has happened in a televised game since it became standard practice following the resumption of football after the break due to the coronavirus pandemic.
In a statement, QPR said:
“In light of comments made across the media following the decision for Coventry City and QPR not to ‘take the knee’ ahead of our EFL Championship fixture on Friday night, the club would like to make the following statement.
“We have noted with great interest a number of people within football and media questioning our decision not to take the knee before the game.
“The decision – which was made jointly with Coventry City and the match referee ahead of the fixture – was not made to suggest a lack of support for the Black Lives Matter movement.”
“This should not be about QPR. Many clubs did not take the knee on the opening weekend, yet this was not reported.
“Taking the knee was very powerful but we feel that impact has now been diluted. In the same way ‘Clap For Carers’ was very emotional for us all, it got to a stage where it had run its natural course and the decision was rightly made to stop it.
“Does that mean we, as a nation, don’t care or appreciate our NHS workers? Of course it doesn’t.
“No one is more passionate than me about this topic. I have spoken on the matter throughout my footballing life.
“I work for one of the most diverse football clubs in this country. A lot of people are being fooled out there.
“Recently, I took the decision not to do any more interviews on racism in football because the debate was going around in circles. People want a nice soundbite when something happens, but how many of the media who have criticised QPR over the past 48 hours genuinely want change?
“The taking of the knee has reached a point of ‘good PR’ but little more than that. The message has been lost. It is now not dissimilar to a fancy hashtag or a nice pin badge.
“Taking the knee will not bring about change in the game – actions will.
“Those media that have been quick to question us should be looking more inwardly. Our Under 18s were forced to abandon a game in August 2019 against AD Nervion FC due to racist abuse.
“More than 12 months on, UEFA refused to deal with the situation and the Spanish FA did nothing.
“What media coverage has been given to that? Not nearly as much as what has been granted to QPR not taking a knee.
“Don’t judge us. Simple research and evidence will show you we are doing more than most. If you want change, judge yourselves.”