‘I am not a racist’: South African cricket star De Kock relents over refusal to take a knee, apologizes to teammates
South African cricketer Quinton de Kock has reversed his decision not to take a knee prior to games in the ongoing T20 World Cup after a mini media storm was ignited within the sport when he initially defied team orders to do so.
De Kock, 28, said in a statement that he is now "more than happy" to take a knee prior to games in the tournament in the United Arab Emirates and has denied that he is a "racist" for refusing to join his teammates in making the social justice gesture, missing his team's game with the West Indies as a result.
Cricket South Africa (CSA) demanded that their team show solidarity with the protest, which was popularized several years ago by NFL player Colin Kaepernick and has since been employed by the 'Black Lives Matter' movement as a protest against various forms of discrimination.
Their requirement to do so came after players opted for various different stances ahead of last week's game with Australia, with the CSA asking for a more unified demonstration from their players ahead of their second game in the tournament – but De Kock's initial refusal to do so led to him being dropped from the team, and reports that he was potentially going to be sent home from the competition.
The CSA held 'crisis talks' on Wednesday to discuss the matter and it appears that some kind of terse accord was reached, with De Kock issuing a lengthy statement denying that his opposition to the social justice gesture was down to "racism" and taking a new stance in saying that he is proud to join his teammates in their pre-game demonstration.
"I would like to start by saying sorry to my teammates and the fans back home," he wrote. "If me taking a knee helps to educate others and makes the lives of others better, I am more than happy to do so.
"I did not, in any way, mean to disrespect anyone by not playing against West Indies, especially the West Indian team themselves. Maybe some people don't understand that we were just hit with this on Tuesday morning, on the way to a game.
"I am deeply sorry for all the hurt, confusion and anger that I have caused. I've been called a lot of things as a cricketer. But those didn't hurt. Being called a racist because of a misunderstanding hurts me deeply.
"It hurts my family. It hurts my pregnant wife. I am not a racist. In my heart of hearts, I know that. And I think those who know me know that."
De Kock's initial stance was met with bemusement from South African captain Temba Bavuma, the first permanent black captain of the team, who said that he was confused by De Kock's non-participation but respected his freedom to do so – with De Kock adding that he would love nothing more to represent his country in Saturday's game with Sri Lanka if his teammates "will have me".
"Following the meeting, the Proteas men's team agreed to align and unify in taking the knee for the remaining fixtures of the World Cup campaign," the CSA said following De Kock's statement.
"Cricket South Africa welcomes all of these developments. They confirm Cricket South Africa's commitment to non-racism. Taking a united stance against racism is a moral issue, not a political issue.
"The CSA board regrets that the timing of its directive earlier this week may have been unsettling for the players in the lead-up to the match against the West Indies."Also on rt.com What a Kock up: Cricket South Africa hold emergency talks over star Quinton De Kock’s refusal to take knee at T20 World Cup