English soccer fans were allowed back into stadiums for the first time in almost a year on Saturday, but Millwall supporters didn’t even make it to kickoff of the second-tier club’s match against Derby County before lustily booing both teams for taking a knee to call attention to systemic racism.
Millwall fans boo their own players for kneeling
Ever since English teams returned to the field last summer after an unplanned, months-long break caused by the coronavirus pandemic, players, coaches and have been taking a knee before games in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement.
This year, teams and officials have continued to kneel as part of the English soccer’s “No Room For Racism” campaign. But that apparently didn’t sit well with fans of London club Millwall, who used their first trip back the club’s stadium, the Den, to let both Derby’s players and their own that they didn’t appreciate the demonstration:
Millwall fans boo as players take the knee.
Loud booing could be heard when players from both teams took the knee in support of #BlackLivesMatter movement before kick off, with at least one supporter heard shouting "get up!"
More on this story: https://t.co/SCap9J1hYZ pic.twitter.com/xETM4W5oHB
— Sky News (@SkyNews) December 6, 2020
Millwall has a history of hooliganism, far-right support
Lions fans are no strangers to controversy. The club has a long and checkered past when it comes to violence, one that dates back more than a century. Millwall-supporting hooligans eventually became so notorious that they have been featured in several television shows and films in the U.K. and abroad, including 2005’s “Green Street Hooligans.”
A 1977 BBC documentary about the widely feared Millwall Bushwackers, a gang of hooligans known for attacking opposing fans, showed how ingrained antisocial behavior was in the culture of the club, which it linked to the National Front, a far right-wing British political party. The problems became so severe that in the early 1980s the club’s then-owner considered ceasing operations.
As recently as last year, an Everton fan was slashed across the face with a knife as Millwall fans clashed with Everton supporters before an FA Cup loss at the Den. That match reportedly also featured racist chanting by the home crowd.
Millwall official match report doesn’t condemn booing
Millwall lost the match on Jason Knight’s 69th minute goal. Its website’s postgame match report made no mention of the incident that occurred before kickoff. It certainly didn’t condemn it — quite the contrary, in fact.
Roared on by 2,000 fans - and what a great sight it was - the game got underway with The Lions creating most of the attacking play.
Up to 2,000 fans were allowed into stadiums across England on Saturday, marking the first time since the pandemic began in March that any spectators were permitted to attend games in person.
And while none responded en masse the way Millwall supporters did to the players’ silent protest, it wasn’t a totally isolated incident; a few scattered boos could be heard from fans of West Ham — Millwall’s historic rival — before the Hammers’ Premier League clash with Manchester United.
Derby forward calls display an ‘absolute disgrace’
Rams veteran Colin Kazim-Richards slammed Millwall’s boobirds on social media afterward, while also praising his Derby teammates and staffers for standing up for what’s right.
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
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