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Swansea players will NOT take the knee after feeling ‘let down’ by handling of alleged racist abuse

Swansea City players have decided to stop kneeling before the games on the eve of their first game of the Championship season.

The gesture became widespread in the English football pyramid when the sport returned in June 2020 after the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.

However, the Swans confirmed that they have “collectively decided” to end their involvement, with manager Russell Martin adding that the squad’s feelings have been affected by Rhys Williams’ alleged racial abuse last season.

Bedfordshire police opened an investigation after the Liverpool mercenary received racist comments from a Luton fan in Swansea’s 3-3 draw with the Hatters at Kenilworth Road in September 2021.

Welsh international Ben Cabango and former Swans players Jamal Lowe and Yan Dhanda have also been racially abused on social media in the past two seasons.

“Whatever the players decide, we are 100% behind them,” Martin said at his pre-match press conference as Swansea prepare for Rotherham on Saturday.

“We have a group of players who care deeply about this and also about the things that have happened to the players here over time.

Swansea players confirmed they 'collectively decided' to stop taking the knee before the matches

Swansea players confirmed they ‘collectively decided’ to stop taking the knee before the matches

“They really felt let down by the way Rhys Williams’ situation was handled last season. They feel that they are getting down on their knees and taking a stand, making a statement. It made very little sense to them after that. The Rhys thing has spiraled out of control to nothing at all.

‘There have been ongoing talks with Grimesy’ [Matt Grimes] and the rest of the players, with the PFA on what the protocol is and how it works.

“They think it has lost its impact. It’s their decision and we fully support it. Together with the club and the foundation, they are looking for their own way to make more impact than is currently the case.

“I admire the position they are taking. If the opposition does, they stand up and clap. But they just feel like it doesn’t have the impact it once had. They feel that it has become a kind of symbolic gesture. We support them and we find our own way to make more impact.’

Other clubs and players have also stopped kneeling and have instead found other ways to support the fight against racism.

Rhys Williams suffered alleged racial abuse while playing for the Swans against Luton last year

Rhys Williams suffered alleged racial abuse while playing for the Swans against Luton last year

QPR made the decision to do so in September 2020, with football director Les Ferdinand saying at the time that the gesture was “nothing more than good PR”.

The full statement from Swansea’s players and coaching staff read: “Following discussions as a group, we have collectively decided not to take a knee before matches during the 2022-23 season.

“Since football resumed in June 2020, following the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, we’ve gotten the hang of it before every match.

“This is not a decision taken lightly and in no way reflects our belief that discrimination of any kind is abhorrent and has no place in football or society. We remain determinedly behind what taking the knee stands for and represents.

“Getting the hang of it has undoubtedly helped raise awareness and encourage conversations about how to remove racism from the game we all love.

Swans manager Russell Martin said: 'Whatever the players decide, we support them 100 per cent'

Swans manager Russell Martin said: ‘Whatever the players decide, we support them 100 per cent’

“Should any of the opponents get down to their knees before a game this season, we will line up and applaud because we absolutely support the sentiment behind it.

“But we feel like as a group we want to take responsibility and find alternative ways to show our commitment to inclusion and diversity, and we feel that this needs to go deeper than getting down on our knees every time we play.

“We are committed to being a force for positive, substantive change.

“As a club, Swansea City is committed to equality, diversity and inclusion, and we will try to continue to work with the Swansea City AFC Foundation, who are doing so much good in promoting the message that football, and sport in general, is for everyone is .

Another Swansea player, Ben Cabango, was racially abused on social media in March 2021

Another Swansea player, Ben Cabango, suffered racial abuse on social media in March 2021

“We have first-hand experience of the devastating impact that discriminatory abuse can have, with some of us dealing with disgusting verbal and social media abuse over the past two seasons. You remember some of those cases that led the club to boycott social media in April 2021.

“The experiences of the targeted individuals, and of us as a group, have not been forgotten and will not be forgotten in the future.

“Substantial change is needed, and we – and all victims of discrimination – need the support of the relevant authorities, social media companies and governing bodies to ensure a better future and a more equal, empathetic society.

“We are a family and we will always stand shoulder to shoulder with each other, whether on the field or to fight injustice and raise awareness.”

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