Roy Hodgson has praised Wilfried Zaha for the courage shown to speak out in his stand against racism. Ahead of Palace’s trip to face Everton on Monday night, Hodgson said he was happy that the message has been received in the correct manner, and says he would like to see players continue to use their status and voices to bring about a positive change – adding that if there is a slight chance football can help to improve society, it is something worthwhile.
Roy Hodgson said “It’s been positive and seen in the right light as I hoped it would be and the credit should all go to Wilf. He’s had the courage to speak out. I saw an interview the other day with him, [Japhet] Tanganga and [Michail] Antonio – I thought how well they all spoke. How brilliantly they articulated what is obviously a problem for us. It can’t be right in 2021 that a guy playing football has to put up with racial abuse. We’re way past a time when we weren’t used to seeing black players playing football – you’d have to go back before my lifetime and the early years of my life. I think it’s great that they say what they’ve got to say and make it clear to everybody: ‘Look, you’re a fan of mine, you say you’re delighted to see me score goals for West Ham or Crystal Palace or defending so well for Tottenham Hotspur; why should I or colleagues of mine or people in the same situation as me suffer abuse at your hands? Just because they’re playing football?’ It’s ridiculous. But it’s been a social problem for as long as I can remember. The good thing is that there’s never perhaps been more highlighting of the problem than there is today. Taking the knee, the Black Lives Matter movement was vital to bring this out into the public domain as much as it is in the public domain today. And it’s also good that when these guys speak and Wilf makes this decision that it goes down to Wilf. I’m hoping that this will be continued and the black players playing in our league will keep using their voices because they are powerful voices. Hopefully it will make a difference not just to a black footballer being abused on Twitter, but moving beyond that into the workplace, into the street, into our social life in general it will lead to a better, fairer, less discriminatory society. If football can help in any little way to do that, then we’ve got to think that’s very worthwhile.”
The Crystal Palace winger became the first player in the Premier League to stop taking the knee before matches and explained that the gesture has “just become a part of the pre-match routine and at the moment it doesn’t matter whether we kneel or stand, some of us still continue to receive abuse”. Palace have fully backed the player, with Hodgson and captain Luka Milivojevic both publicly praising him after the move.
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