QPR players all took the knee and the Millwall side linked arms ahead of last night’s game after fans had booed footballers for associating with the ‘extreme’ Black Lives Matter group on Saturday.
Millwall players held an anti-racism banner that said ‘inequality’ with the ‘in’ crossed out on the halfway line in The Den in South London, in a nod to the club’s new United for Change initiative.
The referee and QPR side then took the knee in a ‘show of solidarity’, just days after crowds berated players at Millwall’s Derby fixture for dropping to the ground ahead of kick-off.
Football fans applauded the anti-racist display, and there have been no reports of dissent – though any boos would have been drowned out by loud music which was being blasted by the venue.
Players were braced for repeated hostility after supporters defended the actions of Saturday’s hecklers, who were supposedly lashing out at the ‘extreme political views’ of the BLM movement.
The act of taking the knee is now closely associated with BLM, which has been accused of straying beyond its anti-racism origins and becoming a brazen Left-wing political organisation.
BLM, which came to global prominence after George Floyd’s death, has called for the abolition of the police and the capitalist system which has underpinned Western society since 1945.
Spectators entering the stadium yesterday received a letter from Millwall which asked them to respect ‘those opposition players taking the knee’ – calling it ‘their right to do so’.
Millwall players hold up a ‘United for Change’ banner before the match at The Den
QPR players linked arms with their rivals and took the knee, just days after crowds berated players in Millwall’s Derby fixture for dropping to the ground ahead of kick-off
Millwall’s Mahlon Romeo raises his fist in the air prior to kick-off during the Sky Bet Championship match at The Den, London
QPR players kneel before the match while a large TV screen says ‘Inequality, United for Change’
Millwall players held an anti-racism banner that said ‘inequality’ with the ‘in’ crossed out on the halfway line at The Den in South London
Rangers players kneel before the Championship match at The Den in South London
The club called last night’s game ‘one of the most important days in Millwall’s history’, adding: ‘Last night the club released a statement announcing its new United for Change initiative.
‘Lions fans from all over the world were unanimous in their support. It is your duty and responsibility as a member of the crowd tonight to continue that superb backing.
Black Lives Matter: Group wants to abolish the police, smash capitalism and close all prisons
Black Lives Matter UK is the semi-official British offshoot of its American counterpart and has been the face of the UK’s protests over George Floyd’s death and racial equailty.
But while hundreds of thousands of people have donated millions to their cause, many will be unaware on many of the group’s more extreme aims.
The UK branch, just like the American arm of the movement, has a number of far-Left aims listed on its wesbite.
They include the Marxist ‘commitment to dismantle capitalism’.
Elsewhere the group says it wants to use money it has raised to develop and deliver strategies ‘for the abolition of the police’.
The official Twitter account of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) UK movement has also been caught up in an antisemitism row.
It tweeted in support of Palestine over plans by Israel to annex its West Bank settlements.
The verified account claimed mainstream British politics were being ‘gagged of the right to critique Zionism,’ before Tweeting that the movement ‘loudly and clearly stands beside our Palestinian comrades’ and adding in block capitals ‘FREE PALESTINE’.
It sparked anger among the Jewish community, with some describing the idea of politicians being ‘gagged’ over their criticism of Zionism as being an ‘antisemitic trope’.
The Campaign Against Antisemitism (CAA) said: ‘BLM should aspire to be a movement against racism that unifies people and achieves lasting change, not a movement that spreads hatred and achieves lasting division.
‘You cannot fight prejudice with prejudice.’
The group has been active online since mid-2016.
In December that year it endorsed the complete closure of all Britain’s prisons and detention centres, saying they were ‘inhumane, overcrowded and unsafe’.
The group has also expressed its opposition on Twitter to government initiatives including reform of the benefits system via the introduction of Universal Credit and the licensing of fracking.
It has attacked everyone from Oxfam (‘big charities are nothing more than colonisers for the 21st century’) to Sir David Attenborough.
‘Before kick-off, our players and those from QPR, will link arms in a show of unity and togetherness towards the fight against discrimination. We know that the crowd, as has always been the case, will be fully supportive of that gesture.
‘As also was made clear last night, we ask that those opposition players taking the knee are respected, as it is their right to do so.
‘The eyes of the world are on this football club tonight – your club – and they want us to fail. Together as one, we will not let that happen.’
Millwall had previously said it was ‘dismayed and saddened’ by last weekend’s behaviour and warned anybody found guilty of racial abuse would be handed a lifetime ban.
A statement from the Millwall Supporters’ Club on Sunday said ‘We fervently believe that the motives of those behind the booing were not racist.’
It added: ‘Anyone who believes it was a racist act should read the views of those who booed and see they were doing it in reaction to the war memorials and statues of (Winston) Churchill defaced by the BLM organisation and the extreme political views they hold and for which ‘taking the knee’ is associated with.’
A senior source at Millwall had told Sky Sports News that some of Millwall’s staff and players were ‘left in tears’ by the hecklers and the condemnation that followed.
Cabinet minister George Eustice waded into the row on Sunday, calling Black Lives Matter ‘actually a political movement that is different to what most of us believe in, which is standing up for racial equality’.
He told Sky News: ‘My personal view is that Black Lives Matter, capital B, L and M, is actually a political movement that is different to what most of us believe in, which is standing up for racial equality.
‘Each individual can take their own choices about how they reflect this. I know a number of people feel quite strongly and have taken that approach.’
Football players had privately discussed walking off the pitch if their pre-game gestures are booed, sources told Sportsmail.
Watford captain Troy Deeney publicly said he would have no issue abandoning the match if faced with racism.
He told talkSport: ‘When they boo, I’ll still be there. But if it gets to that line of racial things being said to me or my players, we’ve already had a conversation about what happens. We walk, simple.’
The club said in a statement: ‘Players from Millwall and Queens Park Rangers will stand arm-in-arm with each other in a show of solidarity for football’s fight against discrimination ahead of kick-off at The Den on Tuesday night.’
It added: ‘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.
‘QPR have informed Millwall that a selection of their players wish to take the knee as a way of showing their support for anti-discrimination efforts – a gesture which the club respects and it firmly asks all those in attendance to do likewise.’
Millwall also said they had started an ‘audit of board members, staff, volunteers and participants as part of an ongoing commitment towards equality, diversity and inclusion’.
The club added that a ‘new widespread and multi-faceted anti-discrimination strategy’ would include ‘the formation of an equality, diversity and inclusion code of practice to cover departments throughout the club’s activities and recruitment processes.’
QPR, which stopped taking the knee in September amid concerns the action had become ‘diluted’, also released a statement ahead of the game.
It comes after Millwall fans booed players taking the knee before their game against Derby
The FA have now launched an investigation into what happened at the Den on the weekend
The BLM movement, which has snowballed in support in the wake of George Floyd’s death, has been accused of straying beyond its anti-racism origins and becoming a brazen left-wing organisation. Pictured: Protesters in Notting Hill in west London on August 30
Chief executive Lee Hoos said: ‘We have always been at the forefront of encouraging equality and diversity while tackling discrimination in all its forms. Our initial approach to this particular situation was for all our players to take the knee in a show of solidarity.
‘However, following a series of discussions with Millwall, as well as internal conversations involving myself, director of football Les Ferdinand, manager Mark Warburton and the entire first team squad, it was agreed that standing shoulder to shoulder with our opposition players would be a more powerful response.
‘On top of this, some of our players wish to take the knee and we fully support this action.’
A statement from the FA earlier on Monday said: ‘The FA can confirm that investigations are under way into crowd-related incidents at both The Den and JobServe Community Stadium on Saturday 5 December 2020.
‘Observations have been sought from all of the relevant parties and they will have until Thursday 10 December 2020 to provide their respective responses.’
PSG and Istanbul Basaksehir players WALK OFF during first half of Champions League clash amid allegations of racism towards Turkish side’s assistant manager by Romanian fourth official – with match in Paris postponed until Wednesday
The Champions League clash between Paris Saint-Germain and Istanbul Basaksehir was abandoned on Tuesday night after both sets of players walked off amid allegations of racism by fourth official Sebastian Coltescu.
The Group H encounter was suspended midway through the first half after an incident on the touchline involving Pierre Webo, Basaksehir’s assistant manager.
After a lengthy delay at Parc des Princes, the game was eventually called off and the remaining minutes will now be played on Wednesday at 6:55pm local time with a new refereeing team in charge led by Holland’s Danny Makkelie.
PSG and Istanbul Basaksehir players walked off as their match was abandoned on Tuesday
Pierre Webo (R), Basaksehir’s assistant manager, was allegedly the victim of racial abuse
Footage from the incident appears to show somebody say ‘n****’ when trying to identify Webo
Fourth official Sebastian Coltescu was accused of making the racist remark on the touchline
THE NEW REFEREEING TEAM
Referee: Danny Makkelie (Ned)
Assistant refs: Mario Diks (Ned), Marcin Boniek (Pol)
Fourth official: Bartosch Frankowsky (Pol)
VAR: Marco Di Bello (Ita)
AVAR: Maurizio Mariani (Ita)
Reserve assistant ref: Jacub Winkler (Pol)
A UEFA statement read: ‘Following an incident at tonight’s UEFA Champions League match between Paris Saint-Germain and Istanbul Basaksehir, UEFA has – after discussion with both clubs – decided on an exceptional basis to have the remaining minutes of the match played tomorrow with a new team of match officials.
‘The kick-off has been set at 18:55CET. A thorough investigation on the incident that took place will be opened immediately.’
Webo accused Coltescu of racism after being sent off, with footage from the incident appearing to show him saying in Romanian: ‘The black one over there. Go and check who he is. The black one over there, it’s not possible to act like that’ after Webo vehemently protested against a refereeing decision.
It is believed Coltescu used the Romanian word for black.
Webo was furious on the touchline and had to be restrained by other members of the coaching staff.
He was shown a straight red card in the 16th minute and the players and staff from the Turkish side left the pitch after around 10 minutes of discussions with referee Ovidiu Hategan.
‘Our players have taken a decision NOT TO go back on the pitch after our Assistant Coach Pierre Webo has been exposed to racist behaviour by the 4th Official,’ Istanbul Basaksehir said on Twitter.
A furious Webo is led away from the touchline by a member of Basaksehir’s backroom staff
Former Chelsea and Newcastle striker Demba Ba was left furious and confronted the officials
Both sets of players left the pitch and returned to the dressing room in a united protest
The Parc des Princes sits empty with both sets of players having returned to the dressing room
There was speculation that the match would restart at 10pm local time but PSG players were left waiting for the Turkish side in the tunnel.
Basaksehir players were reportedly refusing to restart if Coltescu continued to participate in the match as a VAR official.
A new fourth official on the touchline would have required Coltescu to continue as a VAR with UEFA rules demanding two officials be in the video review area. However, there was nobody else to fulfil the role.
According to RMC, Demba Ba and Marquinhos planned for both teams to walk back out onto the pitch, hand in hand.
But a number of Basaksehir players were against the idea and they were later seen leaving the stadium and boarding the team bus to return to their base for the evening.
Former Chelsea and Newcastle striker Ba was at the forefront of the Turkish side’s protests before they left the pitch, demanding an explanation from Coltescu for his language.
Members of the Basaksehir staff make their way out of Parc des Princes after the incident
Basaksehir players sit on the team bus as they prepare to make their way back to the hotel
The match will now be concluded on Wednesday with a different set of officials in charge
Ba, a substitute for the Turkish side, charged in the direction of Coltescu to question why he had used the phrase to identify Webo.
He said: ‘You never say ‘this white guy’, you say ‘this guy’, so why when you’re mentioning him… listen to me… why when you mention a black guy, why do you say ‘this black guy’.’
PSG players immediately followed their Turkish counterparts down the tunnel with the game at Parc des Princes suspended at 0-0.
TV footage also showed PSG’s French defender Presnel Kimpembe saying: ‘Is he serious? We are heading in. We’re heading in. That’s it, we’re heading in.’
Neymar, Kylian Mbappe and Marquinhos were all seen on the touchline in discussion with Coltescu. Basaksehir coach Okan Buruk could be heard yelling ‘you are racist’ to Coltescu.
Within minutes of the incident, Basaksehir’s Twitter feed posted a picture of UEFA’s ‘No To Racism’ campaign.
Mbappe later posted ‘SAY NO TO RACISM. XXX M.WEBO WE ARE WITH YOU’ while Neymar tweeted a picture of himself and wrote ‘BLACK LIVES MATTER’.
Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Twitter he believed UEFA would take the necessary steps.
‘We are unconditionally against racism and discrimination in sports and in all areas of life,’ he wrote.
Within minutes of the incident, Basaksehir posted a picture of UEFA’s ‘No To Racism’ campaign
Kylian Mbappe posted a message of support to the Basaksehir assistant manager later on
Neymar, one of those leading the protests, tweeted a picture of himself and wrote: ‘BLACK LIVES MATTER’
Speaking during BT Sport’s Champions League coverage, Rio Ferdinand said: ‘We are at a disturbing tipping point.
‘Millwall, now this, in the same week, not a week goes by without an incident involving race, something needs to be done, the powers that be need to make a stand.
‘Showing unity [by the players] is a start, but it cannot be left to players. It is not clear and it is hard to make a judgement and put your flag in the sand and say ‘this is what happened’.
‘We need the guys who are there to come out and speak and give their account of the story. It is something that needs sorting out. It is something that needs to be addressed certainly. There has to be something put down to show those are the rules.’
Paul Scholes added: ‘It is about time a stance was made. Obviously everything we are hearing now is alleged, and if something has happened and clearly something has happened, the players walked off which is good.’
Owen Hargreaves commented: ‘The great thing is football players will all stick together. All the boys are from all over the world. You think about Mbappe and Neymar leading the charge here and making the difference.
Speaking about the incident, Rio Ferdinand said football is now ‘at a disturbing tipping point’
‘As players if we can stamp it out we will but Rio made a good point, it is authorities who have got to come down hard on this. Authorities have got to step in and say this is it otherwise it is just going to happen again.’
Former Manchester United striker Louis Saha told French station RMC: ‘What upsets me that the players are the (only) ones to take a stand.
‘Uefa didn’t… Now Uefa are making ultimatums about restarting the match… it’s like they’re in denial… there’s no sign they are ever going to take this problem seriously.’
PSG’s result will have no impact on Manchester United’s elimination from the Champions League.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side are definitely out of the competition after their defeat by RB Leipzig with PSG’s head-to-head record against United superior.
However, PSG do need to win to take top spot ahead of RB Leipzig.