A football supporter was kicked out of a stadium last night as fans at two different games booed their players for taking the knee, in the latest backlash against the Black Lives Matter gesture.
An Exeter fan was thrown out for booing during his side’s home clash against Harrogate Town, while jeers were also heard at the Cambridge United ground during their game against Colchester United.
But fellow spectators at both grounds responded by applauding and cheering before the matches got underway, drowning out the boos.
Cambridge manager Mark Bonner said he was ‘disgusted’ by what happened, while two players posted on Twitter that they were ‘appalled and embarrassed by the section of fans who booed’.
The two incidents are the latest example of a backlash against taking the knee, which spread around the world following the Black Lives Matter protests sparked by the death of George Floyd in the US.
Although many see the act as a symbol of anti-racism, some football fans have questioned its links to BLM, which in the UK has become associated with the toppling of statues and far-left political beliefs.
In the wake of the backlash against the Millwall booing, Environment Secretary George Eustice called BLM a ‘political movement,’ that doesn’t reflect ‘what most of us believe’.
One supporter was ejected from Exeter City’s home clash against Harrogate Town on Tuesday
There were similar scenes at Abbey Stadium where Cambridge United hosted Colchester
Millwall became the first club to boo the knee gesture at a home game against Derby at the Den on December 5, prompting the club to say they were ‘dismayed and saddened’ by what had happened.
At Exeter’s St James Park, the supporter responsible for the booing was identified by stewards and escorted out of the ground.
However, that action has been questioned by some fans, who still disagree with the gesture’s links to BLM, which many see as a political movement.
Twitter user Sue McDonald said: ‘Fans are being treat disgracefully. Essentially you’re being forced to accept their political gestures whether you like it or not.
How Vicar of Dibley taking knee sparked criticism
Furious Vicar of Dibley fans switched off on Monday as they slammed the ‘lecturing’ BBC for using comedy to promote ‘political’ causes over a scene where Dawn French takes the knee for Black Lives Matter.
Viewers criticised series writer Richard Curtis for using a comedy show to promote a ‘Woke’ agenda, with one tweeting: ‘I’m sick and tired of being lectured every time I turn on the TV and ultimately it will achieve nothing.’
The move sparked fears about a potential lack of impartiality on the programme, amid wider concerns about the political aims of those behind the BLM campaign.
The sketch saw Miss French’s character Reverend Geraldine Kennedy address the killing of George Floyd and the issue of racism. She tells the audience she was been thinking about ‘this Black Lives Matter thing’ and the ‘horror show’ of the killing of George Floyd.
After giving a short speech about the issue, her character is seen tearing down some old notices and pinning a home Black Lives Matter poster to the church noticeboard before taking the knee.
Some people defended the scene, with Twitter user Sally Iddon writing: ‘No one argues about Blackadder Goes Forth’s haunting last moment, it doesn’t take away any of the humour, it just shows a bit of heart and humanity…..good for Vicar Of Dibley!’
‘Till many boycott clubs nothing will change. Too many self important prima donnas with extremist views!’
Another fan wrote: ‘The message is clear from the clubs – they fear trial by media should they not bow down to BLM.
‘Fans should send a message back by staying away.’
Players at clubs such as Millwall have said that their taking the knee is in support of anti-racism and not in any shape an endorsement of BLM.
A spokesman for the club said: ‘We would like to thank the vast majority of supporters who supported our players when they took the knee as part of tonight’s EFL wide campaign.
‘Unfortunately one supporter was ejected from the stadium and the club will take the appropriate action.’
Exeter club captain Jake Taylor spoke out after full-time as well to condemn the individual.
‘It has been well documented over the last few weeks about the situation,’ he said.
‘There is no place for it at Exeter City so I’m glad he got dealt with and hopefully gets banned and has to deal with the consequences as it shouldn’t be happening in this day and age.’
Following the game at Cambridge, the club’s manager Mark Bonner condemned those supporters that jeered the players.
As reported by Sky Sports, he said: ‘I’m disgusted to be honest, it shines a light on our club for all the wrong reasons.
‘What was a really good game for us on the pitch was overshadowed by a really small minority that decided to boo in a moment when we’re reflecting the values that everyone at our club believes in.
‘It is just behaviour which is unacceptable and at our club we don’t want that at all.
‘What was most encouraging is the vast majority drowned them out quite quickly with applause and reflected the values of our club much better.
‘We work incredibly hard in the community and there’s massive work that goes on to highlight all these issues and we’ve clearly got some work to do because some people have embarrassed our club and embarrassed themselves to be honest.’
Mark Bonner added: ‘A small number of fans let our club down tonight.
‘What pleases me most is the small minority that booed were soon drowned out by loud applause by the majority that understand that this is about systemic racism and inequality. We’re right to back that message.
‘We’ve clearly got more work to do because that behaviour’s unacceptable.
‘We don’t want the light shone on our club for those reasons. We’re trying to be a club that stands out for all the wrong reasons. I want to condemn that behaviour.’
Some fans could be heard jeering the gesture, before applause drowned out the booing
A similar incident took place before Millwall’s game against Derby earlier this month
Cambridge players Harvey Knibbs and Kyle Knoyle both posted on Twitter that they were ‘appalled and embarrassed by the section of fans who booed’ the players taking a knee, saying ‘it’s 2020 and the action is a symbol of solidarity’.
The incidents followed previous examples at Millwall and Colchester this month.
The Lions insisted they were ‘dismayed and saddened’ by events at The Den ahead of the visit of Derby on December 5, when the long-awaited return of supporters was overshadowed by booing when players took the knee.
Colchester’s League Two game with Grimsby on the same day was preceded by fans booing the players’ anti-racism gesture before kick-off.
The Essex club’s owner Robbie Cowling said afterwards that fans who want to boo players taking the knee are not welcome at the club.
Earlier this year, BLM-inspired protests saw violent clashes in cities including London, where police were pelted with sticks and rocks.
In Bristol, a crowd dragged the statute of slave trader Edward Colston into the harbour. Four people were recently charged with criminal damage over the incident.
Of particular controversy was the targeting of a statue of Winston Churchill by Parliament, which was daubed with the words ‘racist’, leading to officials encasing it in a temporary hoarding.
A Vicar of Dibley sketch on Monday saw Dawn French’s character Reverend Geraldine Kennedy taking the knee for BLM