Agency Reporter

Crystal Palace attacker Wilfried Zaha has become the first Premier League player not to take a knee before kick-off. The 28-year-old decided to stand ahead of Saturday’s match with West Brom at Selhurst Park, to highlight more needs to be done in the fight against racism.

 

Zaha revealed last month when speaking at the Financial Times’ Business of Football summit he would no longer perform a gesture which has become familiar with top flight players, officials and staff since Project Restart in June.

 

After returning from a hamstring injury earlier this month, he appeared off the bench at Tottenham last weekend before Palace manager Roy Hodgson included the Ivory Coast international in his starting XI to face the Baggies which gave the winger his first opportunity to stand.

 

When referee Simon Hooper blew his whistle at Selhurst Park to signal players, officials and staff could take the knee before kick-off, Zaha stood while the rest of his team-mates and those in the West Brom starting line-up took the knee.

 

“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.”