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Taking the knee has lost its power, says QPR’s Ferdinand

London (AFP) – Taking the knee before football matches is not going to change attitudes to racism only actions will, Les Ferdinand, director of football at English second tier side Queens Park Rangers said on Monday.

The 53-year-old former England striker was responding to criticism that neither players from QPR nor opponents Coventry took the knee prior to their game on Friday.

QPR players also did not take the knee in their opening game of the season.

Taking the knee has been adopted by English football leagues as a form of showing their unity in tackling racism which was sparked by the death of unarmed African-American man George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody on May 25.

Ferdinand, though, said the gesture is no longer effective.

“The message has been lost,” said Ferdinand in a statement published on the club website.

“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.”

Ferdinand, who is a rarity in English football in being black and in a high profile management role, said like the ‘Clap for Carers’ which took place on a Thursday during the coronavirus lockdown it had run its course.

“Taking the knee was very powerful but we feel that impact has now been diluted,” said Ferdinand.

“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.”

Ferdinand, who admitted earlier this year he had been racially abused both when he was a player and in his present role by QPR fans, said he no longer gives interviews on racism because “the debate was going round in circles.”

“No-one is more passionate than me about this topic (racism),” he said.

“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.”

Ferdinand — cousin of former Manchester United and England central defender Rio — said taking the knee is not going to resolve the racism issue in football.

“What are our plans with this?”

“Will people be happy for players to take the knee for the next 10 years but see no actual progress made?

“Taking the knee will not bring about change in the game — actions will.”

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