Millwall and Colchester are set to ESCAPE punishment from the FA after fans booed players taking a knee before their games this weekend with uncertainty over whether flashpoints meet the threshold for racism
- Millwall expressed their disappointment after fans booed players taking a knee
- They and Colchester are likely to escape punishment from the FA over incident
- Some fans claimed the booing was not racially motivated but in opposition to the Black Lives Matter political movement
The FA will examine the disgraceful booing of players taking a knee at Millwall and Colchester on Saturday — but there is growing doubt over whether the clubs will be punished.
Football’s fight against racism was dealt a major blow after supporters at the Den and the Jobserve Community Stadium jeered players for performing the customary pre-match ritual.
Millwall are likely to avoid punishment after fans booed players taking a knee on the weekend
In the aftermath of the depressing scenes it has emerged that:
• Millwall and Colchester are likely to escape punishment, despite issuing statements condemning their own supporters.
• Staff at Millwall are said to be ‘distraught’ over Saturday’s scenes.
• There are growing fears the scenes at the weekend will not be isolated incidents.
• Derby caretaker boss Wayne Rooney branded the booing ‘disgraceful and mindless’.
The FA will investigate both incidents to ascertain whether Millwall and Colchester should face disciplinary action.
What happened has been widely construed as racist — which would carry disciplinary action. However, there is uncertainty over whether the flashpoints meet the threshold for a proven act of racism.
Booing in some form occurs at most matches, but while these jeers appeared to be racially motivated, proving that is not straightforward. Some fans insist the booing was not an act of racism but rather opposition to the Black Lives Matter movement’s left-wing political links.
The FA are also looking into booing before Colchester’s match with Grimsby on Saturday
So while the FA will scrutinise the incidents this week, punishing Championship side Millwall and Colchester of League Two does not seem to be clear-cut.
Nevertheless, Millwall chiefs will hold urgent talks today as they deal with their latest racism storm. Sportsmail understands members of staff at the London club, who have worked tirelessly on anti-discrimination initiatives in recent years, are ‘deeply upset’ by the events of Saturday.
Senior delegates at Millwall will meet disappointed workers as they look to move on from another storm. The club will also hold talks with representatives of Kick It Out, the equality and inclusion organisation, in the coming days.
In 2019, Millwall were fined £10,000 after racist chants were heard during an FA Cup tie against Everton.
In a statement released yesterday, a club spokesman said: ‘Millwall Football Club was dismayed and saddened by events which marred Saturday’s game against Derby County at the Den.
‘The club has worked tirelessly in recent months to prepare for the return of supporters and what should have been a positive and exciting occasion was completely overshadowed, much to the immense disappointment and upset of those who have contributed to those efforts.’
Nevertheless, there are concerns among English football’s key stakeholders that the events which marred both games could become a regular occurrence as fans return to stadiums in the coming weeks.
Interim Derby boss Wayne Rooney condemned the incident before their game at the Den
Millwall host Queens Park Rangers on Monday, raising concerns of more negativity. Ironically, QPR have stopped taking the knee amid concerns the gesture has been diluted.
Rooney, who was on the touchline for Derby’s 1-0 win, condemned the events, saying: ‘I witnessed disgraceful and mindless behaviour by a large section of Millwall supporters in the stadium.’
Meanwhile, Colchester striker Callum Harriott posted he was ‘disappointed’ to hear fans boo as players took a knee ahead of his team’s 2-1 win over Grimsby.
In contrast, Environment Secretary George Eustice said people should be free to express their views. ‘There have been problems obviously with racism in football in the past. It is right that is called out and challenged when we see it,’ he told Sky News.
‘My personal view is that Black Lives Matter — capital B, L and M — is 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 and I know a number of people feel quite strongly and have taken that approach.’