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Taking a knee should continue – Onuoha

Nedum Onuoha playing for Real Salt Lake
Nedum Onuoha left QPR to join MLS side Real Salt Lake in 2018

Taking a knee before matches should carry on because “if it continues, you can’t ignore it”, says former Queens Park Rangers defender Nedum Onuoha.

But it remains part of the Black Lives Matter movement in the US, where Onuoha now plays for Real Salt Lake.

“I think the knee will be the start, more people will get involved and will be bringing in change rather than solely talking about it,” Onuoha said.

QPR’s director of football Les Ferdinand said that the impact of taking a knee “has been diluted”, adding it “has reached a point of ‘good PR’ but little more than that. The message has been lost.”

However, speaking toThe Friday Football Social on BBC Radio 5 Live, Onuoha, 33, said: “Les is perfectly entitled to his opinion, but even if 50% of people that kneel don’t believe in it, they’re still kneeling, and as a consequence it can still be a topic of conversation. Even if it’s diluted, it’s still a message in itself.

“It’s good that QPR are doing things in the community and trying to help whoever needs help, but the general population don’t see that, they don’t know that’s a thing.

“This message of saying that black lives matter and trying to fight against discrimination, it has to be in people’s faces for it to become a topic.

“In the United States, if it hadn’t been for people of all races protesting since March, the conversation would get pushed to the side. But because it continued, you can’t ignore it.”

When Major League Soccer resumed with a month-long tournament in July, players took to the pitch before the first game andraised their fist for eight minutes and 46 seconds– the length of time George Floyd was pinned to the floor by a police officer before he died.

A group of more than 170 MLS players also formed Black Players For Change, and Onuoha said that representatives of the group spoke with MLS commissioner Don Garber and team owners on Thursday to discuss “steps to progress, whether it’s in terms of hiring, getting people out to vote, education or helping people in the community”.

The former England Under-21 international added: “There were so many actionable items which have come from people coming together and having those discussions, but it all started with the start of our tournament.

“It was a very clear and visible moment which drew a lot of attention all around the world. From there we knew that wasn’t going to be the only thing.”

Onuoha, who also played for Manchester City from 2004-12, is contracted with Real Salt Lake until the end of the MLS season in December.

“We need the right people in leadership roles who are prepared to say ‘enough is enough, this is what we need, this is how we’re going to try to get there’.”


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