Ex-footballer explains what happened when he spoke to anti-BLM fans

7 December 2020, 16:30

By Fiona Jones

Ex-England footballer and equality campaigner Luther Blissett tells LBC what happened when he discussed taking the knee with fans who oppose the Black Lives Matter movement.

The conversation happened after Millwall fans booed footballers who kneeled in solidarity with the BLM movement at the start of Saturday's game against Derby.

The club has said they are "dismayed and saddened" by the reaction, with Derby forward Colin Kazim-Richards calling the incident "an absolute disgrace."

Mr Blissett told LBC's Shelagh Fogarty that when speaking to fans about racism in football, "People just get riled up and they will not just have a conversation which covers whatever that topic may be."

He said he has "no issue" with taking the knee and would have done so if playing a match - however he "wants to see more than just taking the knee."

"I want to see what more clubs are willing to do," he said, "what are they doing within their own organisations? Are they putting people of colour or looking to get people of colour into positions of management and leadership places within businesses?"

Mr Blissett told Shelagh that he pushed those opposing footballers taking the knee to explain why they do so, and encourage other fans to listen and engage with their opinion.

He also asked fans to give him their understanding of what the Black Lives Matter movement: "The biggest thing that people said is I do not want to be a part of some political movement.

"If I'm a Tory, or whatever, that's where I do my voting and I do that in private and I don't have to tell anyone what I do. So why do I need to be supporting this because of the things that they have done and the things that they stand for? But it's not what I stand for."

Former Liverpool player John Barnes told LBC's Andrew Castle that footballers are not asking fans to take the knee: "If you don't agree with what footballers are doing, keep your mouth shut [and] support your team."