Government minister George Eustice has failed to condemn Millwall fans who booed players taking a knee prior to their game with Derby County, prompting a huge reaction online.
Eustice said people expressing their views should 'always be respected' in an interview with Sophy Ridge on Sky News, while admitting to his unease regarding the Black Lives Matter movement.
He told Sky News: "Well, look, I didn't see that event.
"The issue of race and racial discrimination is something that we all take very, very seriously.
'My personal view is that Black Lives Matter is a political movement that is different to what most of us believe in, which is standing up for racial equality.'
George Eustice reacts to footage of Millwall fans booing footballer's for taking a knee.https://t.co/7d85kNDhUM pic.twitter.com/cOVJjki8i0
- Sophy Ridge on Sunday (@RidgeOnSunday) December 6, 2020
"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.
"But look, each individual can take their own choices about how they reflect this and I know a lot of people feel quite strongly about taking that approach."
2000 fans were allowed in The Den yesterday but when both sets of players took a knee to support the Black Lives Matter movement, boos echoed around the stadium.
Eustice's quotes quickly went viral on social media and a host of football fans were furious.
Fans at Millwall's home game against Derby booed when players took a knee before the game to support the league's anti-racism message on Saturday. https://t.co/NMV7AG8GtQ pic.twitter.com/Ku6XkI3q5k
- ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) December 6, 2020
Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham said: "These would be disappointing comments from anyone but a Cabinet Minister?
"The PM needs to make clear that this is not the Government's view."
While anti-discrimination body Kick It Out called the claims 'lazy and careless.'
On the pitch, Derby forward Colin Kazim-Richards stood up and raised his fist amid the booing.
He took to Twitter following the game stating: "First of all so proud of my team @dcfcofficial the guys all of us stuck together and grinded out a massive result!! Everyone at the club has bought in and I'm sure we going to see the results!!
"But having to say this is a pain but I'll say it every single damn time this is why I STAND and STAND PROUD and I have to say every single person involved with @dcfcofficial did too made me proud to wear this shirt with the boys today!!! Absolute disgrace..
Eustice was urged to watch a clip of the booing live on air and after doing so, the 49-year-old continued:
"Look, there have been problems obviously with racism in football in the past. It is right that that's called out and challenged when we see it, it doesn't have any place in society today.
"And if people choose to express their view in a particular way, that should always be respected."
Further comments from yesterday's game.... pic.twitter.com/7T25MmMDwI
- Wayne Rooney (@WayneRooney) December 6, 2020
Millwall released a statement following the game expressing their disgust, saying they were 'dismayed and saddened' by the events.
Derby emerged 1-0 winners thanks to a second half goal from Jason Knight.
Featured Image Credit: Sky News
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