Watford midfielder Juraj Kucka has explained the reasons behind him choosing not to take the knee before matches.

The Slovak joined the Hornets at the beginning of the season and has not accompanied his teammates or opponents as they take part in the anti-racism protests prior to kick off, as they have since the Premier League resumed following the interruption due to coronavirus in 2020.

In a post on his Instagram account, the 34-year-old said he was completely against racism and understood those who wanted to take the knee, but did not want to join the protest because he respects "everyone equally".

It reads: "I am strongly against RACISM in the world!!! I did not take a knee in the last match, because I respect everyone equally. I have never looked down on anybody and I have never condemned anybody just because they were of a different skin color. I understand the gesture of taking the knee as a manifestation of the fight against racism and I understand those who do it, but this is my decision. Thank you for respecting me. STOP RACISM!!!"



A post shared by Juraj Kucka (@kuco33)

The symbolic gesture has spread across sports since 2016 when at an American football game, Colin Kaepernick and his 49ers teammate Eric Reid chose to kneel during the playing of the US national anthem, in an attempt to call attention to the issues of racial inequality and police brutality.

Footballers in England adopted the protest in 2020 after an increase in racial abuse directed at them via social media.

Since then, players have continued to use the display before matches, with racism still a problem within the game, particularly online.

In a recent interview with the Guardian, former Watford captain Troy Deeney said he still receives eight or nine racial insults every day via his social media platforms.

He called on the websites to do more to prevent it from happening.

"We need Covid passports, and ID to buy cigarettes or alcohol. But you can go online, racially abuse someone, delete that account, make another one, do the same thing again and go, boom, boom, boom. Social media platforms are getting away with it," he said.

"Twitter say they’re only providing the platform and they can’t control what is said between me and some guy called Sam. I find that baffling."

Kucka is not the only player to decline to take part in the protest, nor is he the only Watford player either.

In December 2020 players from Millwall and QPR said they would no longer participate, but would instead stand arm-in-arm.

Brentford players stopped doing it back in February, but reversed their decision for the current Premier League season, although striker Ivan Toney chooses not to take part.

Crystal Palace's Wilfried Zaha also stands while his teammates continue to kneel while Emmanuel Dennis, who also arrived at Vicarage Road at the start of this season, is another who stands at kick off.