Millwall fans boo players taking pre-match knee vs Derby

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Millwall fans boo players taking pre-match knee vs Derby
Photo: @dcfcofficial

Millwall supporters marked the return to their team's stadium on Saturday by booing players for taking the knee ahead of their Championship clash against Derby County.

Around 2,000 fans were present at The Den for the first time since the Covid-19 outbreak began in March, following a relaxation of the UK government's coronavirus restrictions.

Since football resumed in June, players, officials and staff at Premier League and English Football League games have been taking a knee pre-match in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Before the game, Millwall's first-team squad released a statement confirming they would continue to take the knee, despite potential backlash from supporters.

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 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.

We will continue to do this until the start of the New Year when a new and comprehensive anti-discrimination strategy will be announced by the club.

And it turned out, the statement seemed to fall out deaf ears.

As players from Millwall and Derby bent down on one knee moments before kick-off on Saturday, loud boos and jeers from the home fans could clearly be heard around the ground.

Millwall defender Mahlon Romeo then spoke movingly of his disappointment to the South London Press..

Today's game, to me now, has become irrelevant. The fans have been let back in - which the whole team was looking forward to. But in society there is a problem - and that problem is racism.

The fans who have been let in today have personally disrespected not just me but the football club. And what the football club and the community stand for. What they've done is booed and condemned a peaceful gesture which was put in place to highlight, combat and stop any discriminatory behaviour and racism. That's it - that's all that gesture is.

And the fans have chosen to boo that, which for the life of me I can't understand. It has offended me and everyone who works for this club - the players and the staff.

I'm speaking on behalf of myself here - not any of the other players - I want to make that very clear. This is the first time I feel disrespected. Because you have booed and condemned a peaceful gesture which - and it needs repeating - was put in place to highlight, combat and tackle any discriminatory behaviour and racism in general.

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.

It's something I can't wrap my head around. People will have their beliefs and views, which everyone is entitled too. I'm not trying to stop or contain - but if your beliefs and views oppose a positive change in society then don't come to a football ground and spread them around.

If it's negative, don't think you can come to a football ground and this is the place where you can spread hatred essentially.

The Football Association also issued a statement in response to the boos.

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 match itself saw Derby end a 12-match winless streak with Jason Knight netting the winning goal midway through the second half.

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