A Tory MP is facing a severe backlash are comparing England football players taking the knee to a Nazi salute.
Brendan Clarke-Smith slammed the team for making the gesture before matches, which has become a form of protest against racism in the wake of George Floyd's death in Minneapolis.
The move has divided opinion but manager Gareth Southgate has insisted players will continue to take the knee in spite of boos from spectators.
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In a lengthy Facebook post on Sunday, Clarke-Smith said the gesture is “inextricably linked” to Black Lives Matter, which he says upholds the same sort of “poisonous ideology” as past and present dictatorships.
The Conservative MP for Bassetlaw then went on to reference the England football team being forced to make a Nazi salute when they played against Germany in 1938.
He wrote that the action has since been “a great source of shame for many of those involved, including the Football Association.”
“Despite the iPhone generation, with their sweatshop clothing and expensive coffees lecturing us on the merits of this and glamourising it, those of us who are a bit longer in the tooth know better,” he added.
“It is precisely for this reason that this sort of ideology must not be glorified.
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“It is also precisely the reason why Black Lives Matter, whose political goals have included crushing capitalism, defunding the police, destroying the nuclear family and attacking Israel are far more than simply an organisation fighting against racism - they have in fact shown they have some quite sinister motives.”
But Labour MP Zarah Sultana was quick to condemn his comments.
She tweeted: “Conservative MP Brendan Clarke-Smith has compared England footballers taking the knee to the Nazi salute.”
Conservative MP Brendan Clarke-Smith has compared England footballers taking the knee to the Nazi salute.
It's hard to overstate what a horrifically warped view this is: Seeing an anti-racist action as comparable to the most deadly racist ideology in human history. Sickening.
— Zarah Sultana MP (@zarahsultana) June 8, 2021
“It's hard to overstate what a horrifically warped view this is: Seeing an anti-racist action as comparable to the most deadly racist ideology in human history. Sickening.”
Danny Stone, the director of the Antisemitism Policy Trust, also condemned the post.
He said: “This is an ill-considered and offensive comparison which taken together with the additional comments demonstrate an urgent requirement for education.
“I hope the party will take action,” he added.
Presenter Matthew Stadlen wrote: “A Tory MP - Brendan Clarke-Smith - has now compared England footballers taking the knee to Nazi salutes before a game against Germany in 1938. Utterly shameful to compare the two."
Boris Johnson's official spokesman on Monday would not condemn those who booed players but urged them to be “respectful”.
Asked whether the PM is refusing to criticise supporters who boo the gesture, the spokesman said: “No… the prime minister is supporting the England football team and wants them to succeed, and he wants the whole country to get behind them in that endeavour in this tournament.”
However, Johnson “fully respects the right of those who do choose to peacefully protest to make their feelings known”, the spokesman added.
The Conservative Party have been contacted for comment.