Palace star Zaha becomes 1st Premier League player to stop taking knee
Mike Hewitt / Getty Images Sport / Getty

Crystal Palace forward Wilfried Zaha became the first Premier League player in nearly a year not to take a knee before kickoff Saturday against West Bromwich Albion, following through on a promise to boycott the EPL's Black Lives Matter campaign.

Zaha, who was making his first start since suffering a hamstring injury in early February, decided last month to stop making the gesture because he felt not enough was being done to combat racism off the field.

"My decision to stand at kickoff has been public knowledge for a couple of weeks now," the 28-year-old said in a statement Saturday, according to George Sessions of PA Sport. "There is no right or wrong decision, but for me, personally, I feel kneeling has just become a part of the prematch routine, and at the moment, it doesn't matter whether we kneel or stand. Some of us continue to receive abuse."

Zaha emphasized a greater need for education and called on social media companies to take "stronger action" in policing accounts used to make abusive and racists comments.

The Premier League instituted prematch kneeling last June to show solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. Several Black players - including Zaha, Manchester United's Marcus Rashford, and Chelsea's Reece James - have continued to receive racist threats and messages on social media.

A 12-year-old boy was arrested in July after racially abusing Zaha on Instagram. Zaha posted a screenshot of racist messages he received and images showing the Ku Klux Klan.

Zaha said in February that taking a knee was "degrading" to him and no longer making an impact.

Black Lives Matter U.K. supported Zaha's stance and distributed £600,000 to organizations fighting racism.

"Taking the knee without political action is not enough," the organization wrote on Twitter.

Though Zaha said he will now "stand tall" before matches, he added he will continue to respect players who choose to kneel.

Palace beat West Brom 1-0 thanks to Luka Milivojevic's first-half penalty.

Comments
Palace star Zaha becomes 1st Premier League player to stop taking knee
  Got something to say? Leave a comment below!
Daily Newsletter
Get the latest trending sports news daily in your inbox