Mark Warburton: QPR boss understands Brentford players' decision to stop taking knee

QPR boss Mark Warburton says he understands the decision taken by Brentford players to no longer take a knee before games.

Brentford decided they will stop taking a knee before their fixtures, as they believe the gesture is “no longer having an impact” in the fight against racism and discrimination in football.

QPR themselves stopped taking a knee last year believing the gesture was quickly losing its original meaning, with the club’s sporting director Les Ferdinand, saying in September its impact had been “diluted”.

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Wartburton says the decision around taking a knee needs to be left down to each individual and each separate club, but understands how Brentford, along with others, have begun to view the act as a “token gesture”.

“I understand exactly what Brentford mean, it can’t be a token gesture. Clap for Carers was for eight or nine weeks and then I hear people saying ‘I’m not sure tonight’,” Warburton said ahead of Brentford’ visit to Loftus Road on Wednesday, live on Sky Sports Football.


“There’s no lack of respect for the NHS and what they’re doing but it loses momentum and impetus and we can’t have a society that allows an individual to get on a social media platform and volley a torrent of abuse at someone, racist or otherwise, and think that’s acceptable – it can’t be right.

“It’s down to each individual, it’s down to each separate club. Les made his point clear, so did Lee Hoos and so did myself, we came out very strongly.

“You want to make sure you see positive change, we’re all aware of the situation, all aware of the incidents of late which have been appalling in nature. It takes more than just words to deal with these incidents.”

“As a football community and society in general we’ve got to do more. I read Brentford’s statement with interest but QPR are a very progressive club, they are the most diverse club I’m sure in the Football League they want to be forward leading in these types of areas so Brentford’s actions, I fully understand it.

“From our point of view as a football community we’ve got to get together and we’ve got to do more.”

Players across the English professional leagues started kneeling before kick-off when football resumed in June after the first coronavirus lockdown, to highlight racial inequality issues sparked by the death of George Floyd while in police custody in May last year.

Taking a knee was popularised by San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick in 2016 and was taken on by the Black Lives Matter movement, before the Premier League and EFL linked the gesture to their own anti-racism campaigns.

Crystal Palace winger Wilfried Zaha said last week that having to kneel every week and wear Black Lives Matter tops is “degrading” and he is fed up of being used to “tick boxes” without change happening.

A survey by the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) in December found there was an overwhelming support by professional players to continue taking a knee before kick-off.

Some players were subject to backlash from fans when they were briefly allowed back into stadiums in December, with a high-profile incident at Millwall where home supporters booed players who took a knee before kick-off.

Also in December, an Exeter fan was ejected from the stadium for booing ahead of the home side’s clash against Harrogate Town, and jeers were heard at Cambridge United’s Abbey Stadium during their game against Colchester United.

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