London – Romelu Lukaku says soccer must take “stronger” action in the fight against racism, questioning the impact of players taking the knee before Premier League matches.
Lukaku’s Chelsea teammate Marcos Alonso explained his decision to stop making the gesture earlier this week, deciding instead to stand and point to the “No To Racism” badge on his shirt.
Crystal Palace forward Wilfried Zaha stopped taking the knee last season, labeling it “degrading” and opting to stand instead.
Belgium international Lukaku understands those opinions, pointing to the continuing online abuse aimed at black players.
“I think we can take stronger positions, basically,” Lukaku told CNN Sport.
“Yeah, we are taking the knee, but in the end everybody’s clapping but sometimes after the game, you see another insult.”
Lukaku wants high-profile players to sit down with social media bosses and other stakeholders to help tackle the issue of racism on their platforms.
“The captains of every team, and four or five players, like the big personalities of every team, should have a meeting with the CEOs of Instagram and governments and the F.A. (Football Association) and the PFA (Professional Footballers’ Association), and we should just sit around the table and have a big meeting about it,” Lukaku said.
“I think all of us together, have a big meeting and talk about stuff that needs to be addressed to protect the players.
“If you want to stop something, you can really do it.”
Lukaku was speaking to CNN Sport around the launch of Chelsea’s “No To Hate” photography competition, which is encouraging fans of the club around the world to send in their photos that show the diversity within the Chelsea community.
“I think right now, from the owner to us, the players, we as a club, we are really putting out a statement and taking a position that stuff like that should not be tolerated,” Lukaku said.
Earlier in the week, Alonso said the anti-racism gesture is “losing a bit of strength.”
“I prefer to do it this way (by pointing to the badge) and, of course, to say very clearly that I am against racism and I respect everybody,” Alonso said after Sunday’s 3-0 Premier League win at Tottenham.
“I think it’s losing a bit of strength the other way, so I just prefer to do it this way.”
Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel said he trusted Alonso to be “1,000% absolutely committed against racism” and agreed that the gesture of taking the knee had become routine and lacked the effect it first had.
“Isn’t it always like this? Once you do a gesture, then everybody is doing it. Once you do it so often it becomes normal and maybe it lowers the effect of it,” Tuchel told reporters on Tuesday.
“Maybe it takes sometimes an action against the routine to wake up again and have another good discussion, which can go only in one direction, because all of us have the same point — to stand up against (racism).”
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