English soccer fans jeered players who took a knee in support of Black Lives Matter
- A section of Millwall FC fans booed players who chose to take a knee.
- Sportspeople across the world have chosen to kneel before games in support of Black Lives Matter.
- Before the game, the first team reaffirmed their support for the anti-racist act.
- Following the incident, the club expressed their dismay that the game was "overshadowed" by booing.
- Wayne Rooney, Derby County's interim manager, called the situation "very surprising."
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This was the first match supporters were able to attend after the coronavirus pandemic halted games for an extended period. 2,000 people were in attendance at the socially-distanced sporting event.
The match, however, was overshadowed by dramatic booing and jeering at players.
As has become custom in sports games across the world, sportspeople often 'take a knee' in support of the Black Lives Matter movement and in protest of the killing of George Floyd earlier this year.
When Millwall FC's players decided to kneel before the game started, they were met with loud booing from a section of the crowd.
Footage circulated of the incident on Saturday evening.
On Friday night, before the game took place, Millwall's first team issued a statement reaffirming their support for taking the knee.
In the statement, they wrote: "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 is purely about tackling discrimination, as has been the case throughout."
They then expressed their intent to continue doing so until the start of the new year.
On Sunday, the club released a follow-up statement in response to the booing from fans.
The club stated that it was "by events which marred Saturday's game against Derby County at The Den."
The statement continued: "The club has worked tirelessly in recent months to prepare for the return of supporters and what should have been a positive and exciting occasion was completely overshadowed, much to the immense disappointment and upset of those who have contributed to those efforts."
They expressed their intent to meet with anti-racism charity Kick It Out to discuss how to move forward.
This follows a statement released by Kick It Out's chairman Sanjay Bhandari on Saturday night. He applauded the "players for taking a stand and defying the hate shown today."
—Kick It Out (@kickitout) December 5, 2020
Millwall player Mahlon Romeo accused fans of "spreading hatred".Speaking to the South London Press, he said: "I'm almost lost for words. I don't know how they thought that would make me feel. I don't know what they thought taking a knee stood for. But I think I've explained it simply enough. I feel really low - probably the lowest I've felt in my time at this club."The English Football Association also condemned the booing.It "supports all players and staff that wish to take a stand against discrimination in a respectful manner, which includes taking the knee," the organization told CNN.Wayne Rooney, Derby County's interim boss, was "very surprised" by how the events unfolded."Everyone at Derby Country has been in full support of taking the knee so it was quite surprising and I'm sure for our players it could have been difficult to hear that," he told talkSPORT.Some Millwall fans have a reputation for racist and violent behaviour, dating back decades.Last year, they brawled with Everton fans and were accused of racist chanting. The FA fined the club £10,000 (R205,000) and forced it to come up with a 12-point action plan to prevent that sort of behaviour from repeating itself.On other occasions, the club has also narrowly avoided punishment for supporters shouting racist abuse.According to Millwall's website, the club is "committed to leading on anti-discrimination measures and initiatives in the football industry."
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