Millwall fans criticised for booing players taking the knee for Black Lives Matter

6 December 2020, 09:02 | Updated: 6 December 2020, 09:23

Ryan Leonard of Millwall kneeling for black lives matter
Ryan Leonard of Millwall kneeling for black lives matter. Picture: Getty

By Maddie Goodfellow

A section of Millwall fans have been "strongly condemned" by the FA after they could be heard booing when the players took the knee in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Millwall's game against Derby on Saturday was the first time their supporters could take to the stands since spectators were banned due to the coronavirus pandemic.

About 2,000 fans attended the game, but it was overshadowed as loud booing could be heard when players from both teams took the knee before kick off.

A number of fans can clearly be heard booing on video posted on social media, and at least one supporter could be heard shouting "get up!".

Following the match, the Football Association (FA) said it "strongly condemns" supporters who "actively voice their opposition" to players taking a stand against discrimination.

In a statement, it said: "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."

Footballers have been taking a knee since games resumed in June to show their support for Black Lives Matter and their fight against racial injustice, police brutality and systemic discrimination against black people.

Millwall players released a statement prior to the match signalling their intent to continue doing the gesture before matches until the New Year.

Millwall boss Gary Rowett told Sky Sports: "I'm disappointed that we are talking about that when we should be talking about the fact we are all back and we want to enjoy the football match again.

"The club do an enormous amount of work on anti-racism and the club do a lot of work in the community and there is some really positive stuff, so of course I am disappointed."

On players taking a knee, Rowett added: "Is it a political message, is it an anti-discrimination message?

"The players have come out and said they don't support the political aspect, but they do support the anti-discrimination aspect of it and of course we all do."

Derby's interim boss Wayne Rooney said "no one condones that behaviour"
Derby's interim boss Wayne Rooney said "no one condones that behaviour". Picture: PA

Wayne Rooney, Derby's interim boss, said "no one condones that behaviour" when asked about the actions of Millwall fans.

"I don't want to say much about it, but all I can say is everyone at Derby County Football Club, we obviously took the knee, and no one condones that behaviour," Rooney said.

Derby striker Colin Kazim-Richards branded the booing an "absolute disgrace."

He tweeted: "Having to say this is a pain but I'll say it every single damn time - this is why I stand and stand proud and I have to say every single person involved with (Derby County) did too - made me proud to wear this shirt with the boys today."

The booing by some Millwall fans has also been criticised by several former players.

Former England striker Gary Lineker wrote on Twitter: "Let's be fair, it only appears to be a small minority of Millwall fans that didn't boo the players taking the knee."

Ex-England and West Ham United player Trevor Sinclair said: "Reality is Millwall fans booing players taking a knee doesn't surprise many!"

Former Wycombe Wanderers player Marcus Bean tweeted: "We all know Millwall's history but it still shocked/upset me hearing the booing... Even more disturbing it sounded like the majority of fans to me.

"BLM is an anti racist movement. If you boo you are racist simple. #BlackLivesMatter."

The chairman of anti-racism organisation Kick It Out applauded the players of Millwall and Derby for "defying the hate shown by some fans".

Sanjay Bhandari said: "We are saddened by the behaviour of fans booing the players taking the knee today at Millwall."What this demonstrates is that players are right to continue standing up to discrimination, whether that is through taking the knee or speaking out.

"We urge the players to continue using their platforms and their voices to support this fight."

Millwall lost the match 1-0 as former England star Rooney claimed his first win as Derby's interim boss.