Brentford will return to taking a knee before games this season, with the Premier League’s newest club saying that the most effective way to tackle discrimination is to act in unison, but their star striker Ivan Toney has decided to make his own gesture following discussions between the squad.
The West London team had stopped kneeling before kick-off midway through their promotion-winning campaign, which almost entirely took place behind closed doors.
However, they are committed to making the gesture again before matches this season following discussions between all 20 top-flight captains and a renewed feeling of importance behind the signal owing to England’s European Championship campaign and the return of fans.
A Brentford statement said: “The club respects the rights of all individuals to show their opposition to discrimination and racism in whichever way they feel is most appropriate to them.
“During our meetings to discuss these issues, Ivan Toney told us that he would prefer not to take the knee and will continue to make his own personal statement before matches this season. Brentford FC stands fully behind Ivan’s decision and will continue to support him in any way we can.”
A number of other Premier League players, including Crystal Palace’s Wilfried Zaha, are likely to not take a knee when the campaign begins next week. Brentford begin their inaugural Premier League season at home to Arsenal on August 13.
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Their statement added: “Our players and staff held meetings to discuss whether or not to take the knee at kick-off, having not done so since February. We believe that in the upcoming season the collective cause of tackling discrimination and racism will be best served by acting in unison and solidarity with all our fellow Premier League teams.
“Taking the knee will not on its own solve the problem of racism but it will continue to draw attention to the discrimination that exists within football, as well as society generally.
“We all saw the support that the act of taking the knee received from fans before matches during Euro 2020. With fans now back at stadiums for the upcoming season we want to play our part in keeping the fight against discrimination at the forefront of the agenda.”