Championship club, Millwall got a surprise from their fans on their return to the stands after being booed for taking a knee in the fight against racial injustice.
As they were about to kick off the game against Derby Country, all club personnel and the referees took a knee as part of the fight that emanated from the Black Lives Matter protests.
Players, the clubs and FA have condemned the actions of the fans that are returning to the stands after eight months of absence due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Two thousand fans are being allowed in by home clubs across England as the Government continues to reduce restriction as part of the fight against the dreaded virus.
“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,” the FA statement reads.
After hearing the boos, Derby County player, Colin Kazim-Richards stood up and raise his fist in support of the moment. Such was a clear message that there is no room for racism in the game.
This left Millwall boss Gary Rowett frustrated, adding that the return of fans had been overshadowed.
It could be recalled that players in England’s top divisions have been taking a knee at the start of matches since football resumed in June as part of global sporting protests against racial injustice.
Saturday’s match, which Derby won 1-0, represented the first time Millwall supporters had been able to attend a home game since the coronavirus pandemic saw the Championship halted in March.
Reaction to Milwall’s fans behavious
Speaking after he opted to stand while raising a fist as opposed to kneeling at the start of games, Derby forward Colin Kazim-Richards described the incident as an “absolute disgrace”.
“But 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 @dcfcofficial did too made me proud to wear this shirt with the boys today!!! Absolute disgrace,” he tweeted.
First of all so proud of my team @dcfcofficial the guys all of us stuck together and grinded out a massive result!! Everyone at the club has bought in and I’m sure we going to see the results!!— Colin Kazim-Richards (@ColinKazim) December 5, 2020
But 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 @dcfcofficial did too made me proud to wear this shirt with the boys today!!! Absolute disgrace.. pic.twitter.com/lVsdb1KUpa— Colin Kazim-Richards (@ColinKazim) December 5, 2020
On his part, Clinton Morrison says he cannot understand why some Millwall fans chose to boo while players took a knee in the match.
“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,” he told Sky Sports.
While reiterating that the club had done a lot of campaigns against racism, Rowett was very disappointed that fans booed the players.
“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 interim boss Wayne Rooney expressed shock over the action after securing his first win in charge.
With everything that has been going on in recent months, it was very surprising.
“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.”
“We are disappointed that a small group of supporters have today chosen to voice their opposition to such activities directly aimed at raising awareness of the fight against racism.
“Discrimination in any form is not welcome and we remain committed to working with our clubs, including Millwall who undertakes a significant amount of work on equality and inclusion initiatives, as we continue with our collective objective to eradicate all types of prejudiced behavior, ensuring the EFL is an inclusive and diverse environment for all,” the EFL statement said.
What this demonstrates is that players are right to continue standing up to discrimination, whether that is through taking the knee or speaking out.
The fight for racial equality continues and we will continue to work closely with clubs across the country to tackle discrimination in all its forms.
We applaud the players for taking a stand and defying the hate shown today.Kick It Out
As a squad we are fully supportive of the entire football family’s efforts in ridding the sport, and society generally, of all forms of discrimination.
It is our duty as players to reinforce the positive messaging and action of clubs, Community Trusts, charities and governing bodies, and we do so with great pride and knowledge that so much good work is being done up and down the country.
The gesture of ‘taking the knee’ before matches provides an opportunity for us to do exactly that and continues to allow all those playing to publicly showcase their support – on behalf of the whole squad – for the fight against discrimination.Milwall first-team squad