Brentford end refusal to take the knee next season but Ivan Toney will continue to stand

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Brentford's Ivan Toney and Vitaly Janelt (right) stand as Rotherham United's Chiedozie Ogbene takes a knee prior to kick-off during the Sky Bet Championship match at the Brentford Community Stadium, London. - PA
Brentford's Ivan Toney and Vitaly Janelt (right) stand as Rotherham United's Chiedozie Ogbene takes a knee prior to kick-off during the Sky Bet Championship match at the Brentford Community Stadium, London. - PA

Brentford striker Ivan Toney will refuse to take the knee this season, despite his team-mates ending their own opposition to doing so ahead of the club’s Premier League debut.

As revealed by Telegraph Sport, the Bees announced on Wednesday that they would join the other 19 top-flight teams in performing the gesture, something they had stopped doing in February after stating it was no longer having an impact.

But they also confirmed Toney would become only the second Premier League player to refuse to take the knee after Crystal Palace winger Wilfried Zaha, who stopped doing so in March.

Brentford’s top scorer in their promotion-winning campaign was vocal in his opposition to performing the gesture last season, claiming players were being “used as puppets” and that the pre-match ritual had become “silly and pointless” because it allowed those running the game to avoid taking concrete action to address discrimination.

The club said in a statement: “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.”

Explaining Toney’s team-mates own U-turn over taking the knee, Brentford added: “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, as was outlined in a statement from the Premier League yesterday.

“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.

“As well as taking the knee, we will continue to invest our time and energy into taking concrete steps towards making football more respectful, fair and equal for everyone. We will continue to be at the forefront of the fight against abuse and hate on social media platforms. Our actions as a club will also demonstrate our commitment to equality.”

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