Chelsea defender Marcos Alonso has said he will stop taking a knee before matches this season because the anti-racism gesture is “losing a bit of strength.”
Players and staff have been taking a knee prior to kickoff since the Premier League returned to action in June last year to show their support for the Black Lives Matter movement.
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The 30-year-old said he has decided to stand while other players kneel and will instead point to the “No Room For Racism” badge on the sleeve of his kit to highlight the issue.
“I am fully against racism and I’m against every type of discrimination, and 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,” he said.
“I prefer to do it this way and, of course, to say very clearly that I am against racism and I respect everybody.”
When asked whether his decision had changed as a result of politics, he replied: “I don’t know, I just prefer to do it this way. 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.”
Crystal Palace winger Wilfried Zaha became the first Premier League player to not take a knee in March earlier this year after calling for tangible change instead of being used to “tick boxes.”
Alonso also said he had not told his teammates about his decision but was confident that the squad will support him in his stance.
“We are in the changing room and we are like a family,” Alonso added. 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 thing I just told you and I don’t think there will be any problems.”
Chelsea, who are joint leaders of the Premier League, welcome Aston Villa to Stamford Bridge for their third round Carabao Cup clash on Wednesday.
Information from Reuters was included in this report.