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Thierry Henry: Kneeling debate has diverted attention from racism issue

Kneeling debate has diverted attention from racism issue - Henry
Thierry Henry © Getty Images

The controversy over whether soccer players should take a knee before games, according to former Arsenal striker Thierry Henry, has diverted attention away from the real problem of racial discrimination.

Since July, players in England’s top flight have taken a knee in support of the ‘Black Lives Matter’ campaign, before the English Football League and Premier League related the gesture to their own anti-racism movements.

Wilfried Zaha of Crystal Palace became the first Premier League player to refuse to take a knee this month, arguing that the sense of the “degrading” gesture has been lost.

“There was the debate recently about taking the knee or standing, but that’s not the debate,” former France international Henry, who suffered racial abuse during his playing career, told CNN Sport. “That’s not the cause.

“The cause is: what are you going to do for it to be better for everybody? Equality. Everybody, and obviously I’m going to talk about my community.

“I thought kneeling was a strong message and we all know where it comes from, but then the discussion moved to: are we standing or are we kneeling?

“What about the cause? What about the main point of why we are doing it in the first place? Or why we still have to do it? That’s something for me that is very important and we keep on forgetting about it.”

Henry, 43, deleted his social media accounts last week in protest of the sites’ failure to take action against anonymous account holders who engage in online bullying and racism.

Thierry Henry breaks silence after quitting Twitter

Following racist tweets directed at players, English soccer’s governing bodies said last month that Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram were “havens for bullying” and urged the social media companies to address the problem.

Instagram has unveiled a series of steps to combat online harassment, while Twitter has vowed to continue its efforts to combat the issue, citing more than 700 cases of “abuse and hateful behavior” related to soccer in the United Kingdom in 2019.

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