CSA orders Proteas players to take knee, De Kock withdraws from team

Temba Bavuma of South Africa takes the knee ahead of the ICC Men's T20 World Cup match between South Africa and West Indies at Dubai International Stadium on October 26, 2021 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. (Photo: Francois Nel/Getty Images)
By Craig Ray
26 Oct 2021 49

Cricket South Africa’s instruction that all members of the Proteas squad must take a knee before the start of the T20 World Cup match against the West Indies has apparently deepened divides in the team.

South Africa’s former skipper Quinton de Kock withdrew from the Proteas team minutes before the start of their crucial T20 World Cup match against the West Indies in Dubai on Tuesday for “personal reasons”.

De Kock’s decision and his reasons for withdrawing have yet to be clarified. But it happened shortly after Cricket South Africa (CSA) issued a directive that members of the squad had to take the knee as an anti-racism gesture. 

Over the past two years, the gesture has been adopted by sportspeople as a sign of solidarity for the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement.

De Kock has declined to take the knee previously when he had the freedom to choose. Within minutes of his withdrawal in the context of the directive, he was being branded a racist on social media.

If De Kock’s stance is an objection to the directive, it could mean the end of his 2021 T20 World Cup competition and possibly his international career.

It’s an unfortunate situation. That De Kock didn’t choose to take the knee was one thing, that he refused to be forced to do it, is another. While he is being vilified in the court of public opinion, De Kock might have a case in a labour court. CSA’s directive to compel employees to make political or social gestures is not enshrined in any constitution.

In a statement CSA said: “The CSA Board on Monday evening unanimously agreed to issue a directive requiring all Proteas players to adopt a consistent and united stance against racism by “taking the knee” prior to the start of their remaining World Cup matches. 

“Concerns were raised that the different postures taken by team members in support of the BLM initiative created an unintended perception of disparity or lack of support for the initiative.

“After considering all relevant issues, including the position of the players, the Board felt that it was imperative for the team to be seen taking a united and consistent stand against racism, especially given South Africa’s history.

 “Several other teams at the World Cup have adopted a consistent stance against the issue, and the Board felt it is time for all SA players to do the same.”

“‘Taking the knee’ is the global gesture against racism adopted by sportspeople across sporting codes because they recognise the power sport has to bring people together.”

While the sentiment is noble, legally and contractually CSA have no power to force players to make political or social gestures. The unintended consequence of the directive could have deepened divides and not closed them.

CSA Board Chairperson, Lawson Naidoo said: “A commitment to overcoming racism is the glue that should unite, bind and strengthen us. Race should not be manipulated to amplify our weaknesses. Diversity can and should find expression in many facets of our daily lives, but not when it comes to taking a stand against racism.

“South Africans were recently joined by people across the world in celebrating the 90th birthday of our revered Archbishop Desmond Tutu. What better tribute from the Proteas to an icon of the struggle for freedom in South Africa than to demonstrate we are working to fulfil his vision of a united South Africa.”

The situation, which has now exploded at a World Cup, is an indictment of the poor leadership of CSA, which was racked by management issues over the past two years.

How to include the BLM movement within the Proteas team has been poorly managed since 2020 when fast bowler Lungi Ngidi said he would take a knee before games.

Ever since, some players have taken a knee, some have stood with fists raised and others such as De Kock have stood to attention. CSA never resolved the issue through discourse and unanimous agreement within the squad.

Issuing a decree, minutes before a crucial game, has not miraculously resolved the Proteas’ approach to BLM. DM


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All Comments 49

  • “That De Kock didn’t choose to take the knee was one thing, that he refused to be forced to do it, is another”. Huge difference between the two positions. CSA has to conceed that it overstepped the mark. It has no right to force social or political compliance. It should have engaged differently to resolve the divisions. Mampara of the week award must go to Lawson Naidoo of CSA

  • For the first time ever I will not support a South African sports team, despite the fact that I love cricket. The biggest racists are not those that refuse to take the knee which is an American thing (where racism is alive and well), but political parties like the EFF and ANC. For a sporting body to take this stance is despicable, and so are the rest of Quinton’s team mates for refusing to support him, and gave in to the board consisting of no-hopers. I agree with “DM contributor”, Lawson Naidoo is worse than a mampara

  • It’s an outrageous decision by CSA and deserves thorough condemnation. There is much to unpack in this matter, not least being the concept of “black lives matter”, which deserves whole-hearted support, as opposed to the official movement Black Lives Matter, which has Marxism as a central tenet and aims to disrupt the nuclear-family model (both are concepts which people should be free to support or not). Add to that that many people will not take the knee as a religious belief, and one can only conclude that Quinny is indeed a victim of shortsighted, unjust, leftist authoritarianism.

  • Just get on playing the damn game and stop all this politicking. there is a correct place for anti racism and there is a place for sport. do not confuse the two. CSA has not got the best administration record so why is it pushing politics? All lives matter – focus people!

    • The only mamparas here are white South Africans who refuse to acknowledge the global significance of BLM as a movement against racism, which, sadly is as prevalent in SA as it is in the USA and elsewhere, in sport as well as in society at large.

      • Typical response when you have run out of argument. What assumptions did you make to assume a racial profile. Your problem appears to be that I am not bending to social pressure

      • Your comment makes you a mampara supreme, apart from the fact that you can’t use your real name. Whites are a mere 10% of the country’s population, but yet someone like you and your kind will spend their lifetime condemning all white South African as racist, when the real racists are the ones you represent. To throw ALL South African whites under the banner of anti-BLM when it is in such a minority (unlike the USA) is racism to the extreme

        • Taking the knee was a specific action in the NFL taken during the playing of the US national anthem to object to the perceived prejudice of the US police when dealing with black Americans.
          Racism is unacceptable against persons of any colour, including people with white skin, but it is equally unacceptable that people who believe that all lives matter should be coerced in to making a gesture that was specific to American police brutality. The coercion will be counterproductive and have the reverse effect to that which is intended.

          • Agree…fully!. The killing of George Floyd (and countless others) was an act of pure racism, which is common amongst 50% of Americans, and much higher in Australia.

        • You are absolutely right about the EFF and sections of the ANC, but let’s not delude ourselves; racism is very much alive in every section of South African society.

          • Mr Reddy – racism is certainly very much alive in SA – although I’d contend that its racism in reverse. It’s the strategy of the ruling party and all those to the left of the ANC. Cry racist when the going gets tough. Turn up the woeness dials whenever the opportunity presents. Its a sport -catch the whitie out wherever you can. Twist and shout. Scream RACIST as loud as you can. And I honestly thought we were moving on after 26 years…we’re not.
            Autocratic edicts like this do so much more to divide a nation than heal. Its divisive to instruct young, strong-willed sports stars to comply with an instruction laden with socio-political overtones issued by discredited bureaucrats. These youngsters must be so exhausted by the ongoing wokeness required that is forced on them. Frankly I see this action by the CSA’s leadership as NO DIFFERENT to Trump’s despicable behaviour in calling out the American Footballer Colin Kaepernick for bending his knee as a response to a very real racist incident. Kaepernick’s life was made hellish after being singled out. I just hope that we haven’t done permanent damage to a young superstar (born in the new SA) by dragging his reputation through the mud without even bothering to hear his side of the story or consider that a simply ridiculous edict

      • So Wilfried Zaha (Crystal Palace), a black player who refuses to take the knee, is a mampara along with those white South African’s you refer to?

  • You could hardly imagine an edict more unconstitutional. Further…how will CSA resist future demands to express solidarity with other brands? After all, like it or not, “taking the knee” is a BLM-movement “motif”, and not necessarily an authentic expression of anti-racist sentiments.

  • “All lives matter”, well done Quinny for not being coerced into a purely political statement put forward by a political executive intent on imposing their political will on a bunch of innocent sportsmen. This is another great political statement which goes with the rejection of FAF Du Plessis and AB de Villiers, two players who could have gone a long way to winning this world cup. I, as a lover of cricket, will not be supporting a heavily racialized political South African team but will find my peace with one of the other teams.

  • Taking the knee is an American thing only used if a black is killed by a white policeman. BLM has Marxist roots. Forcing the players to fulfill some political agenda cannot be in their contracts. However if you force them they will be in an ideal position to kiss your butt in supplication. I think CSA has done enough damage. I suggest you put your incompetent management aside and resign. Enough of your racist ideas and put South Africa first

  • One would have thought that after all the problems CSA have had they would have avoided something like
    this. There is no doubt in my mind that De Kock has done the right thing and should be supported. I cannot see CSA winning many real friends from this ill thought out action,and if it is taken to court it is very likely to end up losing big and costing plenty.

  • Quinton de Kock has freedom of association. If he does not wish to adhere to the code of conduct of an association he freely joined, he is welcome to leave.

    I support the CSA’s move. It’s about time it stopped pussyfooting around on what is a painful part of most South Africans’ lives.

    • A freedom which De Kock has duly decided to exercise. CSA has moved from one bungle to the next and cricket in RSA has been the casualty. Blindly supporting their political overreach does not solve anything or promote the game. CSA has erred here and is the latest of their bungles. How is taking away freedom of expression and association going to help address the painful part of most South African lives. You are supporting further division. Let’s be more pragmatic and less ideological

      • You contradict yourself. You admit that de Kock duly exercised his right to express himself, but in the same breath claim that his freedom of expression has been taken away.

        I’m not sure if the CSA’s move will force South Africans who supported apartheid not so long ago – or acquiesced to it – to examine their prejudices, but one can hope.

        The assumption is that it’s a matter of principle for de Kock. We don’t know that yet. What if he is just a reactionary? Would continuing to have him in the national squad be in keeping with the nation we wish to build?

    • Do you care to explain why being anti-racism (or pro black lives matter, for that matter), equates to fulfilling a very specific gesture, which for many South Africans is an act of worship and reserved only for the practice of their religion? I suggest you’re confusing “stop pussyfooting around” with authoritarianism.

    • I’m pretty certain that De Kock has a legal case against CSA for their disallowing him from earning an income based on a political issue. And taking the knee is definitely a political issue. When CSA states that it is particularly important in view of South Africa’s past, then it clear that they also see it as a political issue.

      De Kock not taking the knee doesn’t make him a racist. It simply makes him someone who wants to choose how he displays his political beliefs (whatever they might be) to the world.

  • I strongly support the principles of – and the need for – the Black Lives Matter movement, but CSA’s directive is dictatorial, divisive, intolerant and probably unconstitutional.

    • Is it your understanding that the South African Police are killing black Africans because they are black? I am unaware of any evidence for that, or is it that the protesting South African cricketers should be protesting American Police?

    • Agree. Why was this not a condition of selection before the team left SA? Also, if taking the knee is to be a feature of all future sports fixtures (I have no problem with that) why stop there? Why not protest the new Afghanistan government’s appalling human rights infringements against women and girls, tantamount to GBV? Why not protest against discrimination against gay sportspeople and all those on the gender spectrum? Not to belittle the BLM movement, but to be inclusive of all human rights abuses. Yes, I am hugely disappointed in Quinton’s stance but so too am I in the handling by CSA. This should have been better handled.

  • Ironic to me that the statement says “…sportspeople…recognise the power that sport has to bring people together”, and yet all that this (taking the knee) seems to have done is bring about more divisiveness. I have no idea whether de Kock is racist or not, but I can guarantee you that sportspeople who represent South Africa in all sports will be voting for parties across the entire spectrum, from the far left to the far right. In my opinion, forcing the cricketers to take the knee, is similar to telling them which party to vote for in the coming elections!

  • Yet another mountain made from a molehill, and I bet the arch mampara, his eminence the Minister of Condolences (and Sport) is lurking somewhere behind Naidoo’s instruction. We have watch him carefully, especially during this now almost permanent State of Disaster and minimal parliamentary oversight.

  • Perhaps the politicians should play cricket with Naidoo and fawn all over the latest political fad.
    Then the cricketers can do the politics. Probably do a better job too.
    SA cricket is no longer on my to-do list.

  • US presidents have refused to bend for the English queen saying they only bow to God.

    If de Kock’s stance is religious CSA has a big problem coming.

  • Well done Quinny. Sticking to your principals does not make you racist . Watching the premier League football teams taking the knee looks like a scene from, Swan Lake. As for CSA, only a couple of days ago, they congratulated Ngidi for being in the squad that won the IPL. Team member and Player of the Match Faf Du PLessis was ignored until a furore made them give a reluctant congratulation. . I believe that all this shows that the racists are CSA. Shocked that Judith February is part of this organisation. Stick to your guns Quinny.

  • Unthought through. Totally uncreative. Gesture is taken out of context, but I’m for a gesture of solidarity. That should’ve been worked out to find something that makes sense to us SAns and unites us.
    As of German decent, any bodily posturing, especially if forced, sets off major major super major alarm bells.
    This is bad.

  • Well done Quinnie!! Do not allow yourself to be intimidated. Get your team mates to support you and walk out of the world cup. Come home. Tell the Board to stick their rascist cricket brand where the monkey sticks his peanuts. Naidoo is a rascist himself. He thinks that making political American gestures he will rid SA of rascism! What a fool!!! All he has done is to make the divisions deeper. A South African man does not take the knee for any idiology or for any man made crazy idea. Stick to it, you are the best!! Chris Schoeman with love!!

    • BLM is in response to systemic racism where black lives doesn’t matter. BLM is not against ALM; BLM draws attention to the fact that all lives doesn’t matter. BLM is necessary and should be supported as long as it stays clear of forcing other ideologies on people.

  • And so people are to keep on making empty gestures. How much does ‘taking a knee’ impact those living in poverty in the many areas of our country – or elsewhere on the African continent?
    The original reason for the gesture of taking a knee has long been lost in the scramble to be politically correctness. But then we seem to living in a time where it’s important to make the gestures – especially with an election looming -, but actually doing something for the lives that ‘matter’ does meet with the same urgency.

  • Isn’t it ironic – for 20+ years South Africa was banned from international sport because of our political interference in sport. Now, when a South African does not take a political stand he is vilified and branded – probably will be banned from the sport. What an upside down and sick world we now live in!

  • Like many woke journalists, Firdose Moonda is retrospectively bending the story to validate her initial clearly emotional rather than rational response.

    Moonda: “The act of taking a knee has been described as a gesture of antiracism, rather than a gesture in support of Black Lives Matter, and that is another significant point. Although BLM has become synonymous with the fight against racism, the two do not have to be the same thing, especially in a country like South Africa, where the right for racial equality predates the BLM movement. The BLM organisation is seen by some in South Africa (and elsewhere) as a radical political, and even Marxist, movement rather than a civil-rights activist collective that speaks to global issues of exclusion.”

    CSA original statement: “Concerns were raised that the different postures taken by team members in support of the BLM initiative created an unintended perception of disparity or lack of support for the initiative.”

    This is what’s known as “moving the goalposts”. It’s just not cricket, indeed.

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