Former Queens Park Rangers (QPR) defender Nedum Onuoha says that players kneeling before games in support of the Black Lives Matter movement will ensure that it remains a topic of conversation.
The comments follow those of former England international and director of football at the West London Club, Les Ferdinand, who last week claimed the gesture was nothing more than a PR stunt and now at risk of detracting from the message.
QPR were subsequently criticised after neither club knelt ahead of their Championship match against Coventry City last week.
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Speaking to the BBC on Friday, Onuoha said: “Les is perfectly entitled to his opinion, but even if 50% of people that kneel don’t believe in it, they’re still kneeling, and as a consequence it can still be a topic of conversation.”
He added: “Even if it’s diluted, it’s still a message in itself.”
Nigerian-born Onuoha plays for Real Salt Lake in the US Major League Soccer. Speaking of the situation in the US where he has previously said he never feels fully safe he said: “In the United States, if it hadn’t been for people of all races protesting since March, the conversation would get pushed to the side. But because it continued, you can’t ignore it.”
Alexandre Lacazette of Arsenal takes a knee in support of the Black Lives Matter movement prior to during the Premier League match between Aston Villa and Arsenal FC at Villa ParkAlexandre Lacazette of Arsenal takes a knee in support of the Black Lives Matter movement prior to during the Premier League match between Aston Villa and Arsenal FC at Villa Park
The Black Lives Matter cause was taken up by clubs in England’s Premier League when the 2019-20 season resumed after the COVID-19 hiatus, following the death of Flloyd George in Minneapolis, which once again put the issue of racial inequality on a global stage. Clubs wore Black Lives Matter logos on their shirts, but that has now been replaced by “No Room for Racism”.
In the interview , 33-year-old Onuha concluded: “This message of saying that Black Lives Matter and trying to fight against discrimination, it has to be in people’s faces for it to become a topic.”