The Chelsea striker Romelu Lukaku feels football should adopt “stronger positions” than just taking the knee, calling for a players’ summit with social media companies, governments and stakeholders to help combat online racism.
Earlier this week the Chelsea defender Marcos Alonso explained his decision to stop taking the knee before matches, instead continuing to stand and point to the “No To Racism” badge on his shirt, as he feels taking the knee has lost some of its impact.
Last season the Crystal Palace forward Wilfried Zaha stopped taking the knee, opting to stand instead in his own protest against racism and discrimination. Lukaku can understand those viewpoints, with online abuse still continuing despite the players’ direct action.
“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 returned to Chelsea during the summer and has made an impressive start to the season, his goals helping to put Thomas Tuchel’s men joint-top of the Premier League. The 28-year-old wants high-profile players to sit down with social media executives and other stakeholders to discuss solutions to the ongoing problem 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 FA and the PFA, and we should just sit around the table and have a big meeting about it,” Lukaku said. “How we can attack it straight away, not only from the men’s game, but also from the women’s game.
“I think just all of us together and just have a big meeting and have a conference and just talk about stuff that needs to be addressed to protect the players, but also to protect fans and younger players that want to become professional footballers.”
Lukaku added: “If you want to stop something you can really do it. We as players, we can say: ‘Yeah, we can boycott social media,’ but I think it’s those companies that have to come and talk to the teams, or to the governments, or to the players themselves and find a way to stop it because I really think they can.”
Lukaku was speaking 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 and how football can be a unifying factor against hatred and discrimination in any form.
A spokesperson for the FA told CNN it had been in touch with Lukaku to arrange a talk. The spokesperson said: “We always welcome conversations on this important subject with players and others across the game.”