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Les Ferdinand: Taking the knee message is ‘lost’

LES FERDINAND has defended QPR’s stance for not taking the knee, claiming its ‘message has been lost’ in the fight against racism.

Striking legend Ferdinand (pictured) said it was time for action rather than words after the Hoops and hosts Coventry were criticised after last week becoming the first not to kneel at a televised game since George Floyd’s death at the hands of American police in May.

‘Taking the knee was very powerful but we feel that impact has now been diluted,’ said the 53-year-old QPR director of football.

‘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 don’t care or appreciate our NHS workers? Of course it doesn’t. The message has been lost. It is now not dissimilar to a fancy hashtag or a nice pin badge.’

Ferdinand complained more attention should have been given to the postponement of QPR Under-18s’ game with Spanish side AD Nervion due to racist abuse in August 2019. He added: ‘What media coverage has been given to that? Not nearly as much as what has been granted to QPR not taking a knee. Will people be happy for players to take the knee for the next ten years, but see no actual progress made?’

Ferdinand was supported by fellow former England striker Stan Collymore, who wrote on Twitter: ‘Les Ferdinand speaks for me. Lost count of how few black pundits, current or ex-players actually come out and talk like this. Action, not words.’

Sanjay Bhandari, chairman of football’s equality organisation Kick It Out, also backed QPR’s stance. ‘I know how rightfully enraged they were by the treatment of their youth-team players last summer and the pitiful response of Uefa and the Spanish FA,’ he said.

‘I agree with them that we need to focus on action that creates real change. We should be talking about solutions, not symbols.’