Millwall and QPR players to stand arm-in-arm in ‘show of solidarity’ before Tuesday’s match

Millwall and Derby players take a knee
Millwall players were booed when they took a knee before Saturday’s match against Derby

Millwall players will not take a knee before Tuesday’s Championship fixture against QPR but will stand arm-in-arm in a “show of solidarity for football’s fight against discrimination”.

It comes after some Millwall fans booed the players taking a knee before Saturday’s defeat by Derby at The Den.

Players of both teams will collectively hold up an anti-racism banner.

Millwall’s regular shirt sponsor will be replaced with the logo of anti-discrimination body Kick It Out.

In a statement, Millwall 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.

“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.”

The decision came after a meeting on Monday between both clubs, Kick It Out, Show Racism The Red Card, the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA), the Football Association (FA) and the English Football League (EFL).

Some QPR players will take the knee before Tuesday’s game at The Den, despite having stopped the gesture earlier this season after director of football Les Ferdinand said its impact had “been diluted”.

Players, officials and staff at Premier League and EFL games have been taking a knee pre-match since football restarted in June in order to show their support for the Black Lives Matter movement for racial equality.

The Den was able to host 2,000 home fans for the first time this season after the second national lockdown was lifted but the return of spectators was overshadowed by the booing, with which Millwall said they were “dismayed and saddened”.

The Millwall Supporters’ Club said the booing was not motivated by racism, but instead in opposition to the political views held by the Black Lives Matter organisation.

The FA has confirmed it is investigating the incident at Millwall, and a similar one at Colchester United’s League Two game against Grimsby Town.

If it finds that the actions were discriminatory, the clubs could face fines.

Speaking on BBC Radio 5 Live’s Monday Night Club, former England defender Micah Richards said booing is “not acceptable”.

“Millwall fans, from their point of view, this whole movement is becoming political. They’re saying they don’t think the players at their club should want to kneel because of what Black Lives Matter represents in their mind,” he said.

“If they’re booing that, it’s not acceptable, but it’s free speech and that is their opinion, but I think people are taking Black Lives Matter in a different context and changing the actual narrative of what it’s all about.

“When the players are taking the knee they are not saying black lives matter and they are any better than white lives, they are trying to say it’s a stand for equality and unity and that is why they are taking the knee.”

Analysis

BBC Sport football reporter Simon Stone

Sources described this evening’s meeting as “difficult but productive”.

It is understood the PFA was critical of the EFL’s perceived lack of involvement, a feeling many at the club share, having told it beforehand of what they feared was likely to happen at The Den on Saturday.

There are many unanswered questions for football and Millwall in particular and evidently solutions will not be easy.

However, the sense of desperation hanging round the club on Monday has now been replaced by a mixture of trepidation and optimism.

No-one at the club can be entirely sure of what will happen when the QPR players take a knee as planned before kick-off but the noises among fans on social media who backed the booing on Saturday is that these measures should be supported.

Millwall can only hope this is what happens. Because if what happened on Saturday is repeated, even insiders know the damage to the club will be catastrophic.

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