A section of Millwall fans booed as their players and Championship opponents Derby took a knee in support of the fight against racial injustice at the start of their match on Saturday.
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.
Shortly after the match finished, the Football Association issued a statement appearing to condemn the incident.
“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 statement said.
Anti-discrimination charity Kick It Out said it was “saddened” by the scenes at The Den.
“What this demonstrates is that players are right to continue standing up to discrimination, whether that is through taking the knee of speaking out,” a Kick It Out statement said.
“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.”
Millwall’s players had released a statement on Friday signalling their intent to continue taking the knee before matches until the New Year, at which point “a new and comprehensive anti-discrimination strategy” is to be announced by the club.
“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,” the statement from the club’s first-team squad said.
“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.
“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.”
Footballers all across the world began taking a knee last season to show their support for the ongoing anti-racism movement, which surged following the death of George Floyd in May who died after police officer Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds.
Players decided to continue the gesture as the 2020-21 season began in September, with the Premier League and English Football League (EFL) reiterating their support for players who chose to do so.
Following the restart of the 2019/20 campaign, Premier League players decided to wear ‘Black Lives Matter’ on the back of their shirts instead of their names for the first round of fixtures, and then had a Black Lives Matter logo on their shirts for the remainder of the season.
This has been replaced by a ‘No Room For Racism’ sleeve badge for the new season, but Premier League managers such as Crystal Palace boss Roy Hodgson have stressed that both messages remain vitally important.
Meanwhile, players in the Championship, League One and League Two have been wearing a ‘Not Today or Any Day’ logo on their shirts for 2020/21 in recognition of their own fight against racism.
— to www.skysports.com