Swansea's Joel Latibeaudiere: 'I'll still take the knee'

By Manish Pandey and Betty Glover
Newsbeat reporters

image copyrightGetty Images

There's been a lot of discussion over whether footballers should continue to take the knee.

Some teams and players have said kneeling has lost its impact, but for Swansea City defender Joel Latibeaudiere that's not the case.

"We see it as a big gesture. We'll definitely be taking the knee," the 21-year-old tells Radio 1 Newsbeat.

"It's about sharing that recognition of everything that's going on in the world right now, not just in the UK."

Teams first started taking the knee in June to support the Black Lives Matter movement.

Brentford have become the latest team to say they will no longer be doing it because they feel it has lost its impact, whilst Crystal Palace star Wilfred Zaha called the gesture "degrading".

Joel says the players and staff at Swansea have discussed it and are really keen to continue.

"We think it's really important, especially being a club with lots of ethnicities in it. It's a great symbol, especially football teams coming together and fighting the battle together."

image copyrightGetty Images
image captionJoel says the gesture has brought the players closer together

Joel says: "Everyone's entitled to their own opinion, I just think taking the knee is much better than doing nothing at all.

"It's not like it's [racism] stopped, it's still happening. Maybe even worse now than before and I think taking a knee still shows that everyone's still fighting against it."

Joel points to seeing a section of Millwall fans booing their own team taking the knee when fans were first allowed back in stadiums.

"The players and staff have come together and you could just see how embarrassed they were [about the booing]," he adds.

image copyrightGetty Images
image captionJoel's teammate Yan Dhanda was abused on Instagram after Swansea's FA Cup defeat by Manchester City

Recent weeks have seen multiple footballers being sent racist abuse - including Joel's teammate, Yan Dhanda - a British Asian.

"It was awful to see... but we all got behind him and supported him."

Joel hasn't personally received racist abuse on social media but understands players not wanting to be on certain platforms.

"A lot of footballers see themselves as role models, especially for kids. I see myself as a role model for the black community."

He's not thought about leaving social media because he doesn't want to "let them win", but does think more could be done by social media companies.

Facebook has said that accounts which repeatedly send abusive direct messages on Instagram will no longer be banned for fixed periods but will be blocked indefinitely.

image copyrightGetty Images
image captionJoel feels taking the knee still has an impact in highlighting racial inequality

Joel says people shouldn't be able to hide behind fake accounts.

"Whether you need to put an ID or something like that, they have to take responsibility for it."

And with incidents on social media still happening, Joel believes it's important to have a gesture which continues to raise awareness.

"I really do think doing something is a lot better than doing nothing at all."

Follow Newsbeat on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

Listen to Newsbeat live at 12:45 and 17:45 weekdays - or listen back here.

More on this story