Prince defends QPR's decision not to take a knee against Coventry

‘Everyone wants to be seen to be doing something’: Dr Mark Prince – father of tragic QPR star Kiyan – defends club’s decision not to take a knee against Coventry after Les Ferdinand described gesture as ‘good PR but little more than that’

  • Dr Mark Prince says QPR were within their rights not to take a knee at Coventry
  • Prince has urged bodies to implement change instead of looking to ‘tick a box’ 
  • He says people of colour need to be ‘brought around the decision-making table’ 
  • QPR director of football Les Ferdinand likened gesture to ‘a fancy hashtag’ 

Dr Mark Prince, father of Kiyan Prince, the 15-year-old QPR player murdered in a knife attack, has backed Les Ferdinand in questioning the continued relevance of taking the knee before matches, saying that there is now a danger it will deflect from the real issues of increasing diversity.

Dr Prince, who was awarded an OBE for his charitable work, is disappointed that QPR were criticised after failing to take the knee before Sky Sports’ televised game on September 18. QPR named their stadium after Kiyan Prince to support the foundation which his father runs to inspire young people and fight knife crime.

Kiyan died after stepping in to protect a school friend, and Dr Prince has reiterated his support for QPR and their stance, which was articulated by Ferdinand, their director of football, last week. He said that the club felt taking the knee had become ‘not dissimilar to a fancy hashtag or a nice pin badge’ and was ‘good PR but little more than that’.

Dr Mark Prince has defended QPR’s decision not to take knee before kick-off against Coventry

Dr Prince said: ‘We need to look at the issue of kneeling. What QPR was trying to say was there’s nothing set and no guidelines. And that’s an important point. Anything you’re trying to change, you need strategy and structure. What is the strategy behind kneeling? How long does it go on for? When does it end and what is next?

‘It seems to me that everyone wants to tick a box and be seen to be doing something. Taking the knee looks great, it looks like football is really addressing it. But how about we really start addressing the real problem? It’s about how difficult it is to get people of colour around the decision-making table in the FA and Premier League, how difficult it is to be a manager. 

‘QPR have had two black managers. Les Ferdinand, in his position: young people of colour need to see that you can be director of football, coaches, technical directors, head of HR, all these positions that QPR fill. And that’s not touching on the fact that the name of their stadium is the name of a young black boy. How many other stadiums have been named after that? And I’m sure he’s not the only young black boy who died who was into football.’

Les Ferdinand argues that the gesture before kick-off has become little more than ‘good PR’

The FA board still doesn’t have a black member, even though the proportion of black and Asian players in the Premier League was 33 per cent in 2017.

Dr Prince continued: ‘It looked to me that Sky was highlighting QPR in a negative light regarding racism. But QPR’s identity as a football club demonstrates diversity and inclusiveness from the owner right through to the community trust and every other organisation should follow suit. That’s the change we want to see, not just taking the knee.’

Sky has pointed out that its reporters and presenters merely raised a significant news story, with QPR and Coventry being the first teams in a televised match not to take the knee and that is was a legitimate talking point.

Sky is investing £10million a year for the next three years to ensure it is improving diversity and inclusion, with its work overseen by a new diversity action and advisory group. Many of its pundits wear the Black Lives Matter pin badge, though Sky points out its support is for the moral cause rather than the specific political organisation of that name.

The QPR director of football believes the message of taking the knee has been lost 

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