South African cricketer Quinton de Kock has apologized for refusing to take the knee and insists he is “not a racist.”
The wicketkeeper announced he had made the “personal decision” not to take a knee before games at the ongoing T20 World Cup.
His decision came after the Cricket South Africa (CSA) board said all players would be required to take a knee before World Cup games in the United Arab Emirates.
The 28-year-old de Kock did not feature in South Africa’s game against the West Indies on Tuesday.
But in a statement released on Thursday, de Kock said he was “deeply sorry for all the hurt, confusion and anger that I have caused.”
“I would like to start by saying sorry to my teammates, and the fans back home,” he said. “I never ever wanted to make this a Quinton issue.
“I understand the importance of standing against racism, and I also understand the responsibility of us as players to set an example. If me taking a knee helps to educate others, and makes the lives of others better, I am more than happy to do so.”
In the statement, de Kock explained that matters relating to race are particularly important to him as he comes from a mixed-race family.
“My half-sisters are Colored and my stepmom is Black. For me, Black lives have mattered since I was born. Not just because there was an international movement.”
However, he felt that his “rights were taken away” by the CSA’s decision to order players to take the knee.
“Since our chat with the board last night, which was very emotional, I think we all have a better understanding of their intentions as well. I wish this had happened sooner, because what happened on match day could have been avoided.”
He continued: “I didn’t understand why I had to prove it with a gesture, when I live and learn and love people from all walks of life every day. When you are told what to do, with no discussion, I felt like it takes away the meaning. If I was racist, I could easily have taken the knee and lied, which is wrong and doesn’t build a better society.
“Those who have grown up with me and played with me, know what type of person I am. I’ve been called a lot of things as a cricketer. Doff. Stupid. Selfish. Immature. 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.”
The anti-racism gesture of athletes taking a knee, made famous in 2016 by NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick, has become an increasingly common sight at sports venues as a show of support for the Black Lives Matter movement.