Millwall Say Players Will Stand 'Arm-In-Arm' Rather Than Taking The Knee Before Matches

Kick It Out has backed the move, which comes after some fans booed players for taking the knee at the match against Derby County.
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Millwall have said their players will stand “arm-in-arm” rather than taking the knee before the club’s match against Queens Park Rangers on Tuesday.

It comes after the team was booed by some Millwall fans for taking the knee – a symbol of solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement – at the start of the game against Derby County on Saturday.

In a statement on Monday night, the south-east London club said players would “stand arm-in-arm” with members of the QPR team “in a show of solidarity for football’s fight against discrimination”.

The two teams will also hold up a banner “showing their collective commitment towards ongoing efforts to rid the game of racism”, Millwall said. The move has been supported by Kick It Out, Show Racism The Red Card, the FA, the EFL and the PFA.

The club said: “Millwall believe that this gesture, which the club hopes to repeat with other visiting teams in the coming weeks and months, will help to unify people throughout society in the battle to root out all forms of discrimination.”

The logo of anti-discrimination group Kick It Out will replace that of Millwall’s usual sponsor on the team’s kit for the match against QPR.

Fans arriving at the stadium before the Sky Bet Championship match at The Den, London. (Photo by John Walton/PA Images via Getty Images)
Fans arriving at the stadium before the Sky Bet Championship match at The Den, London. (Photo by John Walton/PA Images via Getty Images)
John Walton - PA Images via Getty Images

The club added: “Millwall have a zero-tolerance policy against racial and all other forms of discrimination and want to again make clear to anybody who holds such views that you are not welcome at this football club. Millwall’s stance, as always, is that anybody found guilty of racial abuse is banned for life.”

Anti-discrimination group Kick It Out said it supported the move by Millwall, adding that players would still be able to take the knee if they wanted to.

Ryan Woods of Millwall kneeling for Black Lives Matter during the Sky Bet Championship match between Millwall and Derby County at The Den on December 05, 2020
Ryan Woods of Millwall kneeling for Black Lives Matter during the Sky Bet Championship match between Millwall and Derby County at The Den on December 05, 2020
Jacques Feeney via Getty Images

The organisation’s head of development Troy Townsend said: “We support Millwall’s players and staff in their continued desire to show their commitment to racial equality.

“Having spoken to the club yesterday we have clarified that the players were heard and are comfortable with the suggested gesture that will take place tonight ahead of tonight’s game, but also that if any player still wanted to take the knee they could do so with the full backing of the club.”

QPR said that it supported the move to stand “shoulder to shoulder” with Millwall players, saying it would be a “powerful response”.

The club’s chairman also confirmed the some members of the QPR would take the knee before Tuesday night’s match. Millwall has “firmly” asked its fans to respect this move.

Players at Premier League and English Football League games have been taking the knee before the start of matches since football returned in June to show support for the Black Lives Matter movement.

The booing by Millwall fans on Saturday took place at the first game at The Den to welcome fans since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Millwall Supporters’ Club insisted that the “motives of those behind the booing were not racist” – but that the fans involved were instead opposed to the politics of the BLM organisation. The FA is investigating the incident.

According to The Athletic, the same group of Millwall fans who were in attendance against the club’s match on Saturday also have tickets to the match against QPR.

While Millwall said it was “dismayed and saddened” by the actions of fans who booed over the weekend, some have accused the club of pandering to those who booed by distancing itself from taking the knee.

Some have compared Millwall’s response to that of Colchester United. Some of the club’s fans booed when players took the knee ahead of Colchester’s match against Grimsby Town on Saturday.

In a statement, Colchester chairman Robbie Cowling explained the significance of taking the knee – and told fans who did not support the symbol to “stay away from our club”.

“Maybe those that booed on Saturday might now understand what this gesture means to our club and will at the very least remain silent during future games whilst the players continue to take the knee before each kick-off,” he said.

“Alternatively, they should just stay away from our club because anyone that still wants to boo now that I have explained the purpose and importance of the taking of the knee is not welcome at our club.”

He said that fans should applaud players while they were taking the knee.

The FA has also launched a probe into the booing at Colchester’s JobServe Community Stadium on Saturday.

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