‘Taking the knee is now ‘good PR’ and little more’: QPR chief Les Ferdinand, English football’s only black director of football, says Black Lives Matter’s message has been ‘lost’ as his club become the first to speak out about shunning the gesture
Les Ferdinand has defended QPR’s decision not to take the knee ahead of their match against Coventry, claiming the gesture’s ‘message has been lost’ and is now akin to a ‘a fancy hashtag or a nice pin badge’.
In a powerful statement, QPR director of football Ferdinand insisted ‘taking the knee will not bring about change in the game — actions will’ and added the gesture ‘has reached a point of ‘good PR’ but little more than that’.
QPR and Coventry, who met in a televised game on Friday, are among a number of clubs not to take the knee before kick-off this season even though the move has continued in the Premier League.
QPR director of football Les Ferdinand believes the message of taking the knee has been lost
Ferdinand argues that the gesture before kick-off has become little more than ‘good PR’
However, the EFL allow individual players and teams in the Football League to decide whether to follow suit.
Rangers manager Mark Warburton criticised what he considered a lack of clear guidance from the EFL over whether the act should take place outside of the top division.
As it stands, they have no plans to change their instructions to clubs, which they insist has been issued on numerous occasions.
‘Taking the knee was very powerful but we feel that impact has now been diluted,’ added Ferdinand.
Mark Warburton defended his QPR team after they did not take the knee at the weekend
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.
‘No one is more passionate than me about this topic. I have spoken on the matter throughout my footballing life.
‘I work for one of the most diverse football clubs in this country. A lot of people are being fooled out there.
‘What are our plans with this? Will people be happy for players to take the knee for the next 10 years but see no actual progress made?
QPR and Coventry players did not make the gesture before their game on Friday night
‘Taking the knee will not bring about change in the game — actions will.’
To underline his point, Ferdinand highlighted the lack of sanctions that followed when the club’s youth team walked off after they were subjected to racist abuse during a pre-season friendly last summer against AD Nervion.
‘More than 12 months on, UEFA refused to deal with the situation and the Spanish FA did nothing,’ said Ferdinand.
There has been a split over whether clubs should continue to take a knee before matches start
What media coverage has been given to that? Not nearly as much as what has been granted to QPR not taking a knee.
‘Don’t judge us. Simple research and evidence will show you we are doing more than most. If you want change, judge yourselves.’