Queens Park Rangers director of football Les Ferdinand has released a powerful statement about racism in football.
This is in response to criticism that had come the club’s way as they were seen not to take a knee in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement in their most recent game.
QPR chief Ferdinand, however, was keen to insist that this is still a hugely important issue to himself and the club, but that gestures alone are not enough to make a meaningful difference.
In a statement on the club’s official site, Ferdinand made it clear that he felt there was more attention on this saga rather than on the very real issues they have faced regarding racist abuse of some of their players that went unpunished.
Ferdinand talks a lot of sense here and it’s clear he wants to see much more done by those in power, in football and wider society, to truly tackle this issue rather than simply taking a knee and leaving it there.
See his statement below in full:
“This should not be about QPR. Many clubs did not take the knee on the opening weekend, yet this was not reported.
“Taking the knee was very powerful but we feel that impact has now been diluted.
“In the same way ‘Clap For Carers’ was very emotional for us all, it got to a stage where it had run its natural course and the decision was rightly made to stop it.
“Does that mean we, as a nation, don’t care or appreciate our NHS workers? Of course it doesn’t.
“No one is more passionate than me about this topic. I have spoken on the matter throughout my footballing life.
“I work for one of the most diverse football clubs in this country. A lot of people are being fooled out there.
“Recently, I took the decision not to do any more interviews on racism in football because the debate was going around in circles. People want a nice soundbite when something happens, but how many of the media who have criticised QPR over the past 48 hours genuinely want change?
“The taking of the knee has reached a point of ‘good PR’ but little more than that. The message has been lost. It is now not dissimilar to a fancy hashtag or a nice pin badge.
“What are our plans with this? Will people be happy for players to take the knee for the next ten years but see no actual progress made?
“Taking the knee will not bring about change in the game – actions will.
“Those media that have been quick to question us should be looking more inwardly. Our Under 18s were forced to abandon a game in August 2019 against AD Nervion FC due to racist abuse.
“More than 12 months on, UEFA refused to deal with the situation and the Spanish FA did nothing.
“What media coverage has been given to that? Not nearly as much as what has been granted to QPR not taking a knee.
“Don’t judge us. Simple research and evidence will show you we are doing more than most. If you want change, judge yourselves.”