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QPR chief Les Ferdinand on taking a knee: Message has become PR stunt

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Les Ferdinand: I don't want to wear a badge ... I want change (1:21)

QPR chairman Les Ferdinand speaks about racism in football in the latest episode of "Show Racism the Red Card" on ESPN+. (1:21)

Queens Park Rangers director of football Les Ferdinand has said the "message has been lost" regarding footballers taking the knee at the start of matches.

Both sets of players failed to take the knee in the Championship match between QPR and Coventry City on Friday which led to criticism.

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A number of England Football League clubs failed to take the knee over the weekend and Ferdinand has questioned whether the stance is making a real impact on the sport.

"This should not be about QPR," he said in a club statement. "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.

"Taking the knee will not bring about change in the game -- actions will."

Ferdinand also referenced a 2019 QPR's under-18 side walked off the pitch following alleged racist abuse during a match in Spain and said the club received no help from the relevant footballing bodies.

"Those media that have been quick to question us should be looking more inwardly," he added. 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."

The statement also added that the decision not to take a knee was not a lack of support for the Black Lives Matter Movement.

Back in June, footballers across Europe gave voice in the campaign to raise awareness of the Black Lives Matter movement outside of the United States, as it gained worldwide attention in the wake of the death of American citizen George Floyd in police custody in May.

Ahead of the 2020-21 campaign, Premier League clubs and officials agreed to continue to take a knee but decided to replace Black Lives Matter badges for ones which read "No Room For Racism."

English football's main anti-racism body Kick It Out issued a statement in support of QPR and urged people to raise awareness however they felt best.

"We know that racial injustice and other forms of discrimination did not end when the last football season ended," the statement read. "We encourage the players to continue to protest in whatever form they feel comfortable and to do so free of the risk of sanction, whether that protest is taking a knee, wearing a badge or any other form.

"I know that Lee Hoos and Les Ferdinand at QPR are deeply committed to equality. I know how rightfully enraged they were by the treatment of their youth team players last summer and the pitiful response of UEFA and the Spanish FA. I agree with them that we need to focus on action that creates real change.

"We should be talking about solutions not symbols."