Chelsea defender Marcos Alonso has said he will stop taking a knee before matches this season because the anti-racism gesture is “losing a bit of strength.”
Players and staff have been taking a knee prior to kickoff since the Premier League returned to action in June last year to show their support for the Black Lives Matter movement.
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The 30-year-old said he has decided to stand while other players kneel and will instead point to the “No Room For Racism” badge on the sleeve of his kit to highlight the issue.
“I am fully against racism and I’m against every type of discrimination, and I just prefer to put my finger to the badge where it says no to racism, like they do in some other sports and football in other countries,” he said.
“I prefer to do it this way and, of course, to say very clearly that I am against racism and I respect everybody.”
When asked whether his decision had changed as a result of politics, he replied: “I don’t know, I just prefer to do it this way. It’s my way to do it, I think it’s another way.
“And maybe I think it’s losing a bit of strength the other way, so I just prefer to do it this way and to show I am fully supportive of fighting against racism.”
Crystal Palace winger Wilfried Zaha became the first Premier League player to not take a knee in March earlier this year after calling for tangible change instead of being used to “tick boxes.”
Alonso also said he had not told his teammates about his decision but was confident that the squad will support him in his stance.
“We are in the changing room and we are like a family,” Alonso added. I have a very good relationship with everyone, I love everyone and up to now we haven’t talked about it.
“I don’t think there is a need to, but, of course, if I have to speak to anyone, I will say the same thing I just told you and I don’t think there will be any problems.”
Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel supported Alonso’s change of approach and said he believes it could trigger a fresh debate over the ongoing impact of taking a knee.
“Isn’t it always like this? Once you do a gesture, then everybody is doing it and once you are doing it so often because there are so many games, it becomes normal,” he said in his pre-match news conference ahead of the Carabao Cup third round clash with Aston Villa on Wednesday. “Then maybe it lowers the effect of it, yes.
“If this is his point, I can see it. We can now discuss if it is necessary to have this discussion and to be the only guy to stand up, OK. But I think he is pretty aware of it. He is experienced and responsible enough and that’s the way it is.
“This development started with single persons taking the knee and then it became a bigger thing. I think Marcos’ point is it cannot end like this. It should be normal that we are against racism.
“It is not a discussion in the group but of course if a player takes a decision like this, we are not in a bubble. Of course then the discussion comes up. The most important for me is I know Marcus personally and I trust him 1,000% that he is absolutely committed against racism, any form of racism and there is no question about it.
“We are all against it. We took all together the decision to take the knee. Maybe it takes sometimes also an action against a routine to wake up again and have another good discussion and the discussion can only be in one direction because all of us has the same point: we want to do the most against racism and stand up against it.”
Information from ESPN’s James Olley and Reuters was included in this report.