Chelsea defender Marcos Alonso says he has stopped taking a knee before matches because he believes the anti racism act has lost “a bit of strength”.
At least four of Alonso’s Chelsea teammates have been racially abused; Reece James, Romelu Lukaku, Callum Hudson-Odoi and Antonio Rudiger. The Spaniard says he has not spoken to any fellow player about changing his approach.
Alonso took the knee last season but has not done so in any of the Chelsea matches he has played in since the start of the new campaign and instead plans to make his own gesture.
“I just prefer to do it this way,” Alonso said. “It’s my way to do it. I think it’s another way. And maybe I think it’s losing a bit of strength the other way. So I just prefer to do it this way and to show I am fully supportive of fighting against racism.
“I am fully against racism and I’m against every type of discrimination. I just prefer to put my finger to the badge where it says: ‘No to racism’, like they do in some other sports and football in other countries. I prefer to do it this way and, of course, to say very clearly that I am against racism and I respect everybody.”
Alonso is not the only Premier League player who has opted against taking the knee. Crystal Palace forward Wilfried Zaha stopped in March because he believed the act had become “degrading” though he has been publicly critical of figures on the British right attempting to co-opt his stance. In September 2020 Queens Park Rangers’ director of football Les Ferdinand warned of the risk of the knee becoming little more than “a fancy hashtag or a nice pin badge”.
Asked whether he had spoken to his teammates before making the decision to stop kneeling, Alonso said: “We haven’t talked about it. We are in the changing room and we are like a family. I have a very good relationship with everyone. I love everyone and, up to now, we haven’t talked about it.
“I don’t think there is a need to but, of course, if I have to speak to anyone, I will say the same that I just told you and I don’t think there will be any problems. For now, I prefer to point to the sleeve and that’s what I will do.”
Footballers in the English game have been taking the knee since the resumption of the sport in the summer of 2020, a stance taken following the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin. Players have consistently stated that the gesture is not politically motivated. It has on occasion been booed by supporters in stadiums, most notably during several of England’s Euro 2020 games.