There was a time where sports and politics had their own spheres of influence. These times have seemed to pass with the new era of political correctness and ideological warfare. December 5th 2020 saw fans back in stadiums. Both teams on the pitch, just like many teams since the 20/21 season started, knelt to show support and solidarity with the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement. Millwall fans responded to the kneeling with booing. Before these fans are branded as racists for disagreeing with the action, it is important to note that there is a distinct difference between the idea of black lives mattering and the message/ideology being proposed by the organisation BLM, which these clubs are actively supporting. This has now led to a move by people in football to suppress the actions of these football fans and it is with this move that football now enters a risky path of mixing social politics with a game that people use to escape from the pressures of society.
Despite many media headlines and what football clubs, organisations and pundits have said, this should not be branded as racism. There is a clear distinction between black lives mattering and BLM. BLM are self-branded as a radical political movement with a variety of aims including the disintegration of the family nucleus – a father, mother and children. An article from June by Mass Resistance disputed this ideology and showed links and clear screenshots of BLM’s core message and ideological aims from BLM’s website. However, BLM have now removed the page expressing their true intent. During the Summer protests, this was widely distributed through the media and many people who took the time to read the message, now are against the political movement. So when football teams decide to kneel in support of an organisation which does not align with the vast majority of their supporters, they should not be shocked to find that some fans will show vocally their discontent.
Many people are still not fully informed about the BLM political organisation and this makes it easier for them to believe main stream media and social justice warriors that the actions of these fans was solely racist in nature. Troy Deeney, who clearly still struggles from systemic racism, appeared on Talk Sport and spoke of the incident involving the match-attending Millwall fans.
He acknowledged that fans had their reasons for booing but then went on to say that he wouldn’t go into those because he felt all this hysteria was giving them too much “energy” implying that the reasons were deeply rooted in this country’s racist history. He acknowledged that fans had their reasons for booing but then went on to say that he wouldn’t go into those because he felt all this hysteria was giving them too much “energy”. If the causation of the booing was not racist in intent, then it would be an ideal opportunity to clear up misconceptions around the kneeling. Troy Deeney later said that the pre-match actions were separated from politics. This statement is correct, the Premier League distanced itself from the BLM movement months ago. However, players did not kneel when the already existing ‘No Room For Racism” campaign was started by the Premier League, which begs the question, why are we still kneeling?
The image of kneeling for racial injustice originates from the awful actions of Derek Chauvin kneeling on the neck of George Floyd in May 2020. BLM turned the kneeling into a political tool in attempt to end racial injustice and further their own ideology, just like in 2013 when they first came to be, with the phrase “Hands up don’t shoot!” slogan after the killing of Trayvon Martin, which was later proven in court by witnesses that this was not even said by the deceased. Regardless, the kneeling that took place across sport worldwide was in support of the BLM organisation and their message. The Premier League distanced itself from the organisation earlier this season due to the true ideology of the organisation and went back to their pre-existing campaign “No Room For Racism”. Although, the message of kneeling is still synonymous with the BLM organisation. Therefore, it understandable why the Millwall fans showed their distaste.
Unfortunately, the response from many players, pundits and clubs has been tiptoeing the line of “Thought Police”. QPR and Millwall have unified their response to the booing saying that they have zero tolerance against racial discrimination and will ban anyone who is guilty of this. This is dangerous because they are ignoring the blatant view of the BLM organisation and consequent actions of the organisation’s following being the true causation of the booing. This message blurs the lines of what freedom of expression means. It is ok to express your views as long as your views completely align with ours is a dangerous message to purposefully or even unintentionally promote. The whole idea of freedom of expression is that you are allowed to say and think what you want as long as it does not incite violence or harm towards anyone. The FA are now investigating the issue which again only further conditions the thoughts some football fans may have; think this way or be banned from our ground. When did football clubs and the media shame fans for shouting obscenities at referees for making unpopular decisions? Or shame fans when they were throwing protests and demonstrations over decisions made by club owners? These actions are awful yet you won’t have anyone say it should be banned, it doesn’t fit the politically correct narrative that gives these clubs and many players virtue and moral high ground.
The kneeling is not consistent with clubs and leagues moving away from BLM and therefore fans will still continue to disagree with players and clubs that take the knee in support of BLM. I think it is also important to mention that the idea of kneeling to end racial injustice is being seen as a token gesture that has no real impact and is being milked for virtue signalling elites that run the clubs and all affiliated. This has a remarkable similarity to the “clap for carers” during the early stages of the pandemic – we stopped because it was having little impact. To summarise, clubs can decide to ban such views from their grounds, but this comes at an unethical cost as well as a possible financial cost. the only clubs who could survive smaller turnouts would be large premier league clubs. Football as a sport needs to bring people together like it has always be renowned for rather than dividing fans based on specific beliefs.