Written by Staff Writer by By Catherine Tymel, CNN
A renowned South African cricketer has admitted he refused to take the knee during the closing ceremony of the World Cup when he found it offensive to black players, but insisted he was not a racist.
At the center of a racism row, middle-order batsman Quinton de Kock entered the pitch and declined to bow his head in prayer on March 29, saying he felt the gesture was culturally insensitive to black cricketers, a move which reportedly came after he was booed during an Australia innings.
“I think in my soul I know what the mistake was,” de Kock told local newspaper The Times on Friday. “I look back on that and it was the wrong call. But I also understand that there is a lot of thinking process that goes into it.”
The rest of the team agreed with him, he added.
“We came together as a team that same night and we hugged as a team and said it wasn’t what we wanted to do and that we were disappointed in ourselves,” he said.
“That’s the last I heard about it until today and everyone feels very upset about that, including the boys who were in the team that night.”
“When I look back on it now I realize how offensive it was, but in my heart I knew it wasn’t and it was a stupid decision,” he added.
CNN reached out to de Kock’s South African club, SuperSport. No-one from the team, or the club’s media team, was immediately available for comment.
De Kock also suggested he is a victim of racism and called on the Cape Town Cricket Club, which owns the ground, to apologize.
“(I’m) not a racist. I’m not a racist at all,” he said. “My first black friend was a black soccer player and I will fight with my life to keep this world nice and safe for other races. That doesn’t mean I won’t support black cricketers or (isn’t) in favor of how a black player should play cricket.”
He added: “I don’t want to ruin their hard work by saying it’s okay to see the funny side of things. The umpires and team that’s involved with that game have been traumatized. … I feel like I’ve let them down and I’m ready to sacrifice my name and reputation in order to make things right.”