South Africa's players explain decision not to take a knee

The Proteas squad to face England releases a statement explaining why the players will not kneel before the games.

South Africa will play three T20s and three ODIs against England. - REUTERS

South Africa’s squad to face England in a six-match limited overs home tour starting on Friday has released a joint statement explaining why the players will not kneel before games after media criticism of the decision this week.

The issue has marred South Africa’s return to international cricket for the first time since March and created debate over whether the squad should be seen to be more publicly supportive of the Black Lives Matter movement. But the players maintain there are a lot of discussions going on behind closed doors and that this will continue in the months ahead, and that those engagements are personal and private.

'Not a decision compelled on us'

“Over the last six months, the Proteas team has engaged with honesty, empathy and vulnerability in exploring together what anti-racism work looks like and why this work matters so profoundly in this cultural moment,” the statement on Wednesday said.

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“As a team, we have unanimously chosen not to take the knee at the upcoming matches, but to continue to work together in our personal, team and public spaces to dismantle racism. This decision was taken by the team collectively, after deep dialogue and attentive consideration. This is not a decision compelled on us by either our management or our coaches.”

Plea to media

The players have called for less “sowing contention around our decision” from the media.

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“We respect the right of the media to hold the team accountable as citizens. We ask though that in doing so the media not threaten the journey we have embarked on, the trust we have built, and the work we are doing by sowing contention around our decision.”

England has also confirmed the players will not take a knee, having not done so since August.

The first of three Twenty20 Internationals will be played at Newlands on Friday. They will be followed by three 50-over matches.

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