Brentford players to stop taking a knee before matches

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FILE PHOTO: Championship - Brentford v Preston North End

(Reuters) - Players from Brentford will no longer take a knee before matches as part of English football's anti-racism campaign but will find other ways to support racial equality, the Championship (second-tier) club said on Saturday.

Players have been taking a knee since July, initially in support of the 'Black Lives Matter' movement before the Premier League and English Football League linked the gesture to their own anti-racism campaigns.

Brentford said Sunday's home game against Barnsley would be the first match in which they do not perform the gesture.

"Taking a knee is just one way our players have been showing their commitment to racial equality," Jon Varney, Brentford's chief executive said https://www.brentfordfc.com/news/2021/february/a-statement-from-the-brentford-fc-dressing-room.

"We supported their desire to do it and now support their desire to focus on other ways to show this commitment.

"We have been very clear in our ambition to be the most inclusive club in the country and our players want to and will play a big part on this journey."

Taking a knee was popularised by San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick in 2016 and gathered steam as an anti-racism protest following the death of George Floyd, a Black man who died in police custody in Minneapolis last May.

Queens Park Rangers had stopped kneeling after director of football Les Ferdinand said the action had become a PR stunt, while Crystal Palace winger Wilfried Zaha said taking a knee had become degrading.

Brentford said "racism was the opposite of what we stand for" and that they would support other clubs that continue to kneel before games.

"There is a clear need to continue to push for an end to all discrimination," the club said. "As players we will show our commitment to togetherness and racial equality on and off the pitch between now and the end of the season, and beyond."

(Reporting by Arvind Sriram in Bengaluru; Editing by Toby Davis)