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Millwall game overshadowed by booing as players take knee

London (AFP) – Fans of English Championship club Millwall booed as players took a knee in support of the fight against racial injustice on Saturday.

In footage seen on social media, booing from the stands at the London-based club is heard after referee Darren England blew his whistle for the players to make the gesture.

Players at Premier League and English Football League games have been taking a knee since football restarted in June following the coronavirus shutdown.

Only 2,000 spectators were allowed inside the ground for Saturday’s second-tier match between Millwall and Derby due to Covid-19 restrictions.

“Today’s game, to me now, has become irrelevant,” Millwall defender Mahlon Romeo told the South London Press. “The fans have been let back in, which the whole team was looking forward to, but in society there is a problem – and that problem is racism.

“The fans who have been let in today have personally disrespected not just me but the football club. And what the football club and the community stand for. What they’ve done is booed and condemned a peaceful gesture which was put in place to highlight, combat and stop any discriminatory behaviour and racism.”

Fans of Millwall, who in the past gained a reputation for violence, revel in their unpopularity.

Former Manchester United and England captain Wayne Rooney is in temporary charge of Derby and expressed his shock at the incident.

“Obviously I heard it and I was very surprised,” said Rooney. “It’s a sad thing to happen. All I can say is everyone at Derby County Football Club has fully backed taking a knee. We’ll continue to do so.”

– ‘Purely about tackling discrimination’ –

Ahead of the game, the topic of players taking a knee was discussed on Millwall’s fans forum and the first-team squad said in a statement on the club’s website that they supported efforts to end discrimination.

“We wish to make clear that taking the knee, for us, is in no way representative of any agreement with political messaging or ideology,” it added. “It is purely about tackling discrimination, as has been the case throughout.”

The Football Association issued a statement after the match, which Derby won 1-0, saying it supported players’ right to protest.

“The FA supports all players and staff that wish to take a stand against discrimination in a respectful manner, which includes taking of the knee, and strongly condemns the behaviours of any spectators that actively voice their opposition to such activities,” a spokesman said.

Elsewhere, Norwich scored two late goals through Josh Martin and Max Aarons to beat Sheffield Wednesday 2-1 and return to the top of the table.

Reading stretched their unbeaten Championship run to four games with a 2-0 win over 10-man Nottingham Forest, courtesy of goals from Lucas Joao and Michael Morrison.

Veljko Paunovic’s side are in third place in the table on 30 points, behind Bournemouth on goal difference.

Swansea are in fourth place after a 2-0 win at home to Luton while Stoke are in fifth spot after a header from Nathan Collins proved enough in a 1-0 win against Middlesbrough.

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  1. Jesus

    December 7, 2020 at 2:43 pm

    The fight against racism is not a political statement. Black players experience all sorts of verbal racist attacks during matches. Taking a stand against racism is to show solidarity with players that experience racism. Racism in society at large has an effect on what people do at matches. The taking of a knee before matches is to send a clear message that football is against racism.

  2. Barry

    December 7, 2020 at 2:28 pm

    Correct me if I am misremembering this but I thought the FA specifically dropped “black lives matter” as a slogan because of what the BLM group in England is espousing. They switched to a more generic anti racism slogan. I am not a fan of athletes taking a knee while the national anthem is playing, but that is not what is happening in the premier league. Yeah, I’d rather not have anything remotely related to politics or social issues involved when I’m watching sports, but if you’re going to do it this seems like a pretty reasonable way to handle it.

  3. Yespage

    December 7, 2020 at 9:31 am

    Since when was denouncing racism “political”? It seems the ones that are making this political are right-wingers that ingest way too much far right news media. No one is taking a knee to support vandalism or rioting by protesting blacks any more than they are supporting the white supremacists that committed acts of arson and destruction in an attempt to frame protesting blacks.

  4. JP

    December 7, 2020 at 9:11 am

    These comments are exhibit A for why many believe politics don’t belong in sport.
    We’re all here for the shared love of soccer (despite differing personal or political beliefs) but end up arguing over kneeling and the true meaning behind a movement.
    Let’s get back to the game, we can join the argument about this on Facebook or whatever.

  5. Roberto

    December 7, 2020 at 8:38 am

    The brown shirts were the ones with the guns. Fighting Racism that has plagued the U.S. and the U.K. is a worthwhile project. If your information comes from fox news or the other promoters of hate, you can be lead to believe anything.

  6. El jefe

    December 7, 2020 at 1:22 am

    I can tell you as a hardcore lifelong Millwall supporter that the booing had nothing to do with fans being racist and much to do with the rejection of BLM and their marxist (straight from the BLM organizational leaders mouths) and anti-Semitic beliefs. Not to mention the burning of union jacks, toppling of statues, desecration of war memorials, looting of businesses, etc. Have a proper anti-racism campaign- i’m all for it. Not this weird submission ritual before kickoff in solidarity with this far left political organization. It reminds me of all those videos in the US over the Summer of roving groups of BLM supporters demanding diners raise their fists in solidarity to the organization. Weird, creepy stuff very reminiscent of a certain group of people that wore brown shirts in the 1920’s and 1930’s if you catch my drift.

  7. George Heussenstamm

    December 6, 2020 at 11:16 pm

    What a SHALLOW, BRAINLESS comment. Racism is a dreadful disease that plagues the world and damages the lives of countless millions day in and day out.
    I find it admirable and inspiring that soccer club personnel take a moment before every game to play tribute to the cause of stamping out this disgusting attitude toward people of color.

  8. Allan

    December 6, 2020 at 9:57 pm

    Contrary to what these players and their supporters might be inclined to think, the majority of these booing fans aren’t racists or otherwise opponents of racial equality–they’re just sick and tired of hearing about it in everything they do. People attend and watch these games to escape all the negative bullsh*t going on in the world.

  9. Mark Kucik

    December 6, 2020 at 5:51 pm

    Why are Pro – Sports putting themselves in a position to loose fans over this a VERY controversial Political topic. Black Lives Matter is a racist group (just look at their list of demands) People do not watch sports to be lectured about anything or to be indoctrinated into a Marxist Political organization Stop trying to put down our Veterans WE don’t appreciate the disrespect to my flag that my fellow Marines fought and died for, the nonsense must be stopped.

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