We are NOT racist, say England fans: Supporters blasted over booing of footballers

We are NOT racist, say England fans: Supporters blasted over booing of footballers for taking the knee say ‘original message’ of anti-racism gesture has been lost

  • Fan groups said that the gesture before games has now ‘lost its original meaning’
  • But one senior football administrator slammed fans who heckled the footballers
  • He said that were committing ‘a racist act’ and cannot use anti-BLM as excuse
  • Ex-England manager Sven Goran Eriksson said he ‘loves to see’ taking the knee

England football fans have said they are not racist after being condemned for booing when players take the knee before matches.

Supporters’ groups say the gesture – which is done ahead of kick off – has now ‘lost its original meaning’ and ‘is being misinterpreted’.

Meanwhile the Free Speech Union said if football is going to defend the right of the players to take the knee, then they should defend the right of the fans to react.

But one senior football administrator slammed those who heckled the footballers as committing a ‘a racist act’ and cannot use any anti-BLM excuse.

Former England star Rio Ferdinand also described those who boo the kneeling as ‘ignorant’. 

And former England manager Sven Goran Eriksson said he ‘loves to see’ stars do it and hopes the heckling ‘is behind us’ as the Euros looms.

Boos have rung out across the Riverside stadium in Middlesbrough in England’s two friendly games against Romania and Austria when players took the knee.

Supporters' groups said the political gesture ahead of kick off has now 'lost its original meaning' and 'is being misinterpreted'. Pictured: Marcus Rashford before the Romania game

Supporters’ groups said the political gesture ahead of kick off has now ‘lost its original meaning’ and ‘is being misinterpreted’. Pictured: Marcus Rashford before the Romania game

Meanwhile the Free Speech Union said if football is going to defend the right of the players to take the knee, then they should defend the right of the fans to react. Pictured: Fans in the Romania game

Meanwhile the Free Speech Union said if football is going to defend the right of the players to take the knee, then they should defend the right of the fans to react. Pictured: Fans in the Romania game

Former England defender Rio Ferdinand brands fans who boo taking the knee as ‘ignorant’ 

Former Manchester United captain and England defender Rio Ferdinand today slammed fans who boo taking the knee as ‘ignorant’.

Speaking to the FIVE YouTube channel, he said: ‘These fans, these ignorant people going to these games, they haven’t got a clue.

‘They don’t know what the players are kneeling for. It’s not a political stance.

‘All these people saying, “BLM is a political movement” – [the knee] is nothing to do with [BLM]. So take that out of your mind.

‘The players, the manager are telling you, “This is not a political campaign, the reason why we kneel is nothing to do with politics”.

 ‘This stance is about racism, about people being treated the right way and respectfully, and not based on the colour of their skin.’ 

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England fan CJ Joiner, a member of the supporters’ group Block 109 – which sits in the Home End at Wembley – said fans who boo are not racist.

He said he disagreed with those who do jeer at the players but said a new initiative should be launched to replace taking the knee.

The act was started in September 2016 by NFL player Colin Kaepernick to protest against the police in the US during the national anthem.

Mr Joiner told Sky Sports News: ‘Players are doing it for one reason and one reason only, not to support any organisation but to show their support in the fight against discrimination and inequality.

‘Those players are following the original message but this original message of Colin Kaepernick has been lost.

‘The majority that were booing are not racist, it’s just how the message has now been misinterpreted and put out with perhaps some mistruths made about it too.’

Meanwhile, another fan, Andrew, from Lincoln, told the BBC he booed to show his objection to an ‘identity politics agenda’ being brought into football.

He told Radio 1 Newsbeat: ‘Booing is a way football fans can communicate dissatisfaction.

‘Some seem to genuinely believe booing is an act of racism – I reject that.’

Other fans say the ‘political’ gesture of taking the knee is detracting from the sport.

‘If I want to watch politics, I’d switch on Westminster Live,’ one Twitter user says. 

England fan CJ Joiner, a member of the supporters' group Block 109 - who sit in the Home End at Wembley - said fans who boo are not racist

England fan CJ Joiner, a member of the supporters’ group Block 109 – who sit in the Home End at Wembley – said fans who boo are not racist

The Free Speech Union told MailOnline: ‘If the FA is going to defend the right of the players to take the knee, it ought to defend the right of the fans to respond as they see fit, whether by booing or applauding. It cannot be free speech for the players but not for the fans.

The Free Speech Union (pictured, General Secretary Toby Young) told MailOnline: 'If the FA is going to defend the right of the players to take the knee, it ought to defend the right of the fans to respond as they see fit, whether by booing or applauding. It cannot be free speech for the players but not for the fans'

The Free Speech Union (pictured, General Secretary Toby Young) told MailOnline: ‘If the FA is going to defend the right of the players to take the knee, it ought to defend the right of the fans to respond as they see fit, whether by booing or applauding. It cannot be free speech for the players but not for the fans’

‘For the FA to say that the gesture has no connection with BLM and is simply an expression of support for the moral cause of anti-racism is naive.

‘For the last five years, the gesture has been an expression of solidarity for Black Lives Matter, a neo-Marxist political movement that wants to dismantle the nuclear family, defund the police and end capitalism.

‘If the England players want to take a stand against racism, all power to them, but why not do so with a less inflammatory gesture, such as standing in a circle and linking arms? If they did that, I doubt a single fan would boo.

‘The leaders of the footballing community like Gary Lineker have condemned the booing fans as racists and said the fact that they’re reacting in this way shows why players must continue to take the knee.

‘But it’s a bit much to ask the fans to give the players the benefit of the doubt, and interpret the gesture in the most charitable light, and, in the next breath, condemn the fans as racist, knuckle-dragging Neanderthals. Why not give fans the benefit of the doubt, too?

‘The reason they’re booing is because they want to keep divisive political movements out of football.

Former England boss Sven: ‘I’m in favour of taking the knee’ 

Former England manager Sven-Goran Eriksson said he was in favour of the players taking the knee and hopes the booing stops by the time the Euros start this month.

He told Times Radio: ‘I really hope these things are behind us. Because taking about it and living with it – it’s absolutely awful.

‘So I really hope that nothing of this will happen before the game if they go down – I like that, I love to see it because it’s sort of respectful.’

Swedish-born football coach Sven managed England from 2001 to 2006.

 

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‘It’s got nothing to do with being racist. They’d be booing just as loudly if the players began each game with a Nazi salute.’

But one senior football administrator disagreed and branded those who boo as committing ‘a racist act’.

The unnamed official said those against the players taking the knee are showing they are against the drive for social justice.

They added: ‘We can’t necessarily call the people who are booing racists, but it’s now absolutely clear that the booing is a racist act.

‘And going forward, that’s how we need to tailor our response, in terms of how we react to the booing.’

Former England manager Goran Eriksson said he was in favour of the players taking the knee and hopes the booing stops by the time the Euros start this month.

He told Times Radio: ‘I really hope these things are behind us. Because taking about it and living with it – it’s absolutely awful.

‘So I really hope that nothing of this will happen before the game if they go down – I like that, I love to see it because it’s sort of respectful.’

Meanwhile, former Manchester United captain and England defender Rio Ferdinand today slammed fans who boo taking the knee as ‘ignorant’.

Speaking to the FIVE YouTube channel, he said: ‘These fans, these ignorant people going to these games, they haven’t got a clue.

‘They don’t know what the players are kneeling for. It’s not a political stance.

‘All these people saying, “BLM is a political movement” – [the knee] is nothing to do with [BLM]. So take that out of your mind.

‘The players, the manager are telling you, “This is not a political campaign, the reason why we kneel is nothing to do with politics”.

‘This stance is about racism, about people being treated the right way and respectfully, and not based on the colour of their skin.’ 

British politicians have also been weighing in on the debate, with some in favour and others strongly against.

Former Manchester United captain and England defender Rio Ferdinand today slammed fans who boo taking the knee as 'ignorant'.

Former Manchester United captain and England defender Rio Ferdinand today slammed fans who boo taking the knee as ‘ignorant’.

Some England fans booed players kneeling before kick off against Romania on Sunday evening

Some England fans booed players kneeling before kick off against Romania on Sunday evening

One senior Tory MP for a northern constituency said today that the issue was ‘ridiculous’.

They told MailOnline: ‘If they want to stand in solidarity then they could all link hands around a circle. But it is a political gesture they are taking. I would never take the knee.

‘It is linked to extremism. It is linked to a violent Marxist organisation that has hijacked the agenda and the Left after backing it, and most of the country are not.

‘Rather than listening to the public they are arguing with the public saying you should be worried about this stuff. The public are like, ‘no I don’t have to be. I will do what I want.

‘If the football grounds were full the boos would be louder than the claps. The message of what is was about has just gone now, it’s disappeared. It’s just become tribe war.

‘All the government is really saying is you are going mad, you just need to take a step back.’

Their comments come after a Tory MP yesterday compared England players taking the knee to the national side’s infamous pre-Second World War Nazi salute.

Brendan Clarke-Smith invoked the shameful episode before a friendly with Germany in 1938 to demonstrate ‘mixing politics and football’ had ‘disastrous consequences’.

The MP for Bassetlaw said taking the knee is now seen as an expression of support for Black Lives Matter.

The ‘political movement’ had argued in favour of ‘crushing capitalism, defunding the police, destroying the nuclear family and attacking Israel’.

Boris Johnson yesterday backed England players who had taken the knee, with his spokesman urging fans to ‘get behind’ the team and be ‘respectful’. 

Footballers have taken to kneeling before every game for the past year in a defiant message against racism after BLM protests spread the gesture.

Brendan Clarke-Smith invoked England perform a Nazi salute before a 1938 friendly with Germany (pictured) to demonstrate that 'mixing politics and football' had 'disastrous consequences'

Brendan Clarke-Smith invoked England perform a Nazi salute before a 1938 friendly with Germany (pictured) to demonstrate that ‘mixing politics and football’ had ‘disastrous consequences’

After thousands booed the stance ahead of Wednesday’s win over Austria, manager Gareth Southgate urged fans to support players making the gesture.

But this failed to convince some sections of the crowd who continued to jeer at the second England warm-up game on Sunday.

Writing on a Facebook blog, Mr Clarke-Smith, 40, disagreed with Southgate, arguing their ‘admirable’ desire to express their opposition to racism, footballers taking the knee would be considered to be endorsing a BLM, a ‘political movement’.

He mentioned England’s friendly with Germany in 1938, describing how officials convinced players including Sir Stanley Matthews to ignore their concerns about taking part in a Nazi salute by reassuring them it was a ‘formal gesture of courtesy’, not an endorsement of the regime.

The players ‘reluctantly’ agreed, Mr Clarke-Smith noted, adding: ‘The point here is that regardless of the original intention, the mixing of politics and football had disastrous consequences. Symbolism means a lot, both in football and wider society, and we must think carefully about how it is used.’

But his comments today sparked a reaction from Labour, who described his opinion as a ‘warped view’.

Zarah Sultana, MP for Coventry South, said: ‘Conservative MP Brendan Clarke-Smith has compared England footballers taking the knee to the Nazi salute. 

‘It’s hard to overstate what a horrifically warped view this is.

‘Seeing an anti-racist action as comparable to the most deadly racist ideology in human history. Sickening. ‘

Meanwhile, Jeremy Corbyn ally Richard Burgon, Labour MP for Leeds East, today hit out at the comments, saying: ‘A Tory MP has compared England players taking the knee to Nazi salutes. 

‘The vile politics of Donald Trump are alive and well in the Tory Party.’

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