Motherwell manager Graham Alexander has explained the Fir Park club’s decision not to take the knee against Kilmarnock on Saturday.
Clubs far and wide have condemned the alleged racist abuse suffered by Rangers’ Glen Kamara during last week’s Europa League match between the Ibrox side and Slavia Prague. Prior to kick-off against Kilmarnock, Motherwell made a statement by standing instead of taking the knee, which has been done all season by SPFL clubs in the fight against racism.
But Motherwell are now opting to stand in a call for action and change rather than token gestures, Alexander explaining: “It was a players’ decision that they were concerned about and it was actually something that was being spoken about at the start of the week.
“When I spoke to the players on Friday they didn’t want to do it and I just thought out of unity we should all do the same thing to have the same message. There’s a lot of issues around it. The players felt this was the best way for them and us to acknowledge the issues and the reaction to it.”
Club captain Declan Gallagher spoke with Motherwell striker Devante Cole about taking a stand, deciding it was best to go with a unified approach: “Devante Cole came up to me and basically said a few of the boys wanted to take a stand.
“I then believed if they wanted to take a stand then we had to take a stand together. I don’t think it’s fair that some people take a knee and others stand. Whatever we do, we have to show solidarity and togetherness.
“We had a discussion as a team and the boys were happy to stand. The players wanted to change something, they felt the message of taking a knee wasn’t working any more. As you can see there are still incidents creeping up in the game, which isn’t nice to see, so everyone wanted to stand united.
“As footballers, we have got that world stage and we can set that example. We are sticking together and not going to tolerate the likes of what happened to Kamara. It’s not on and there’s no place for it in football.”
Motherwell’s statement from the players read: “When we started taking the knee at the start of the season, it had an impact. For the first few weeks, the message was loud and clear. Now it has been lost. Taking a knee has become something someone does now for the sake of it. It has completely lost its meaning.
“As a squad, we spoke and asked ourselves ‘why are we doing this anymore? Is it having any impact at all?’. The answer was a clear no. Taking a knee has become an empty gesture. Instead, we want those in power to take real and immediate action on racism.
“Apathy and complacency have set into the routine. We want our actions to cause a realisation and a reaction. Racism is apparent everywhere in the day-to-day life of society. People need to realise change is required. Players, clubs, authorities and society now need to unite, and fight for a level playing field for all.”
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