Millwall have announced that players will link arms before kick-off in “a show of solidarity for football’s fight against discrimination” rather than take a knee ahead of Tuesday’s home clash with QPR.
The teams will also hold up an anti-racism banner, and Millwall will have the Kick It Out logo on the front of their shirts.
On Saturday Millwall’s game against Derby at The Den and Colchester’s home match against Grimsby both saw fans boo players as they took a knee. The Football Association is investigating both incidents.
This is the start of a change.
— Millwall FC (@MillwallFC) December 7, 2020
Millwall said in a statement on their official website on Monday evening: “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.
“The two teams will hold aloft a banner to show their collective commitment towards ongoing efforts to rid the game of racism in a positive move which has been supported by Kick It Out, Show Racism The Red Card, The PFA, The FA and The EFL following discussions with the club in recent days.
“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.
“Kick It Out’s logo will also replace that of principal partner Huski Chocolate on the front of Millwall’s shirts for the London derby.
“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.
The FA can confirm that investigations are underway into crowd-related incidents at both The Den and JobServe Community Stadium on Saturday 5 December 2020. Full statement: https://t.co/ZMNWHkYeZy. pic.twitter.com/FZ0itfExmb
— FA Spokesperson (@FAspokesperson) December 7, 2020
“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.”
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 also released a statement ahead of the game.
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.
— QPR FC (@QPR) December 7, 2020
“On top of this, some of our players wish to take the knee and we fully support this action.
“As I said in September on this subject (after QPR did not take a knee ahead of their game against Coventry), each individual needs to be free to make their own decision on how to express intolerance for social injustice, without fear of being negatively judged.”
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.”
Colchester owner Robbie Cowling has told supporters who want to boo players taking a knee that they are not welcome at the club.
“I will be happy to refund anyone for the remaining value of their season permit if that is the reason they feel they can no longer attend our games,” he said.
Fans booing players taking the knee is a sad indictment of the lack of understanding and empathy for the players’ plight in the fight against racism and discrimination.
— Professional Footballers' Association (@PFA) December 7, 2020
Cowling also called on fans to applaud the taking of the knee from now on.
The Professional Footballers’ Association has urged Millwall to “act swiftly to identify the section of the crowd who booed the players.”
It described the booing as “a sad indictment of the lack of understanding and empathy for the players’ fight against racism and discrimination”
And it added in a statement on Monday: “The decision to take the knee – as a result of the death of George Floyd in the USA and the global tide of support for the BLM movement – was a player-led decision in solidarity and support for black people facing racism.
“We have all seen players face racist abuse on and off the pitch – this is not a political issue it is a human rights issue.”