Players around the football world have been taking a stand with the Black Lives Matter movement before matches this season and last, “taking the knee” against racism.
UPDATE: Millwall has confirmed, in conjunction with Queens Park Rangers, that the two sides will not kneel prior to kickoff of the two sides’ EFL Championship fixture on Tuesday. Instead, the two teams will stand arm-in-arm while holding an anti-racism banner in a “show of solidarity for football’s fight against discrimination.”
With crowds returning to English football this weekend, there have been a lot of first including the first time we’ve seen fans interact with the near-universal choice to take the knee.
Millwall fans noticeably and even loudly booed their players and the Derby County players before kickoff of the visiting Rams’ 1-0 win on Saturday.
Derby boss Wayne Rooney got his first managerial win in the match, a fact that will undoubtedly be overlooked by many including the man himself. Rooney was one of many to speak out on the unsavory incident.
“I was very surprised if I’m being honest,” Rooney told TALKSport after the game. “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. But they reacted well, they put it to the back of their minds and they got on with the game, so credit to them for that. But I don’t think that is condoned in football.”
Millwall’s Mahlon Romeo is from London and has been with the Lions since 2015.
The 12-times capped Antigua and Barbuda player, who is black, was very upset by the booing fans.
“I’m almost lost for words,” Romeo said, via Sky Sports. “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.
Derby County assistant Liam Rosenior posted a proud and defiant statement on Twitter after the boos, while Kick It Out issued a statement. Both are below.
— Liam Rosenior (@rosenior_liam23) December 5, 2020
Our response to today's incident at Millwall. pic.twitter.com/129BS270N0
— Kick It Out (@kickitout) December 5, 2020