Peterborough United chief backs anti-racism group, but believes players should not be shamed when declining to ‘take a knee’ before matches

Darragh MacAnthony.Darragh MacAnthony.
Darragh MacAnthony.
Peterborough United co-owner Darragh MacAnthony believes footballers should not be pilloried for declining to ‘take a knee’ before matches.

Players all over the world have been kneeling before matches to support protests against racism. The practice became widespread following the death of George Floyd, an African American man, during an arrest by police in the United States in May.

But some clubs have opted not to continue kneeling - Posh players have stayed standing ahead of their two League One games so far - which has led to criticism from some sections of the media and the general public.

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The players of Coventry City and QPR were put under the spotlight last week after failing to kneel ahead of their Championship game.

Les Ferdinand.Les Ferdinand.
Les Ferdinand.

But QPR director of football Les Ferdinand, a man who experienced racism in his successful playing career, defended the clubs saying the ‘take a knee’ message had been ‘diluted’ and was now ‘just good PR.’

He claimed ‘actions rather than gestures’ were needed and MacAnthony, who has made financial contributions to established anti-racism football group ‘Kick it out,’ agrees with him.

“‘Kick it out’ is a well-run organisation with come good people behind it,” MacAnthony said on the latest edition of his ‘Hard Truth’ podcast. “I have donated money to them in the past as I support what they do.

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Racism in football and in life is not tolerable, but I thought Les Ferdinand’s statement recently was spot on.

“I watched that Coventry/QPR game and it was a great spectacle, but at half-time the pundits talked in negative terms about the teams not taking a knee rather than the match itself which was a disappointment.

“There is no written rule about taking the knee. It has to be a choice for the players and they do not deserve to be called out, shamed or pilloried for their choice. We don’t know what those same players are doing outside of football.

“I would do whatever I could to eradicate racism from sport. I would spend whatever money is required to make a difference. Taking a knee won’t make the same difference.

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“The players should get together to form their own coalition with Kick it Out and raise a serious amount of money as they did for the NHS. Players should use their wallets as well as their platform.

“There needs to be proper, cohesive action to put and to racism.”

It’s not known whether or not Posh players will take the knee ahead of the League One match at Sunderland tomorrow (September 26). The matter is usually discussed by the captains when teamsheets are exchanged before the game.

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