FA to take no action over Millwall and Colchester fans who booed players taking knee

·3-min read

The FA to is take no further action after football fans booed players who took the knee at Millwall and Colchester United matches.

The governing body launched an investigation after some supporters booed players for the gesture at two separate matches on 5 December.

While no further action will be taken, the FA says it will continue to support anyone who chooses to take the knee, and added that it does not view the anti-racism gesture as a political symbol.

A spokesman said in a statement: "The FA has conducted full and thorough investigations into the crowd-related incidents that took place at both The Den and JobServe Community Stadium on Saturday 5 December 2020.

"Having carefully considered these matters, including the observations from all relevant parties, we can confirm that no formal disciplinary action will be taken against the clubs concerned on this occasion.

"However, the FA would like to further clarify that anyone who chooses to take the knee will continue to receive our support as they highlight the inequality and injustice experienced by the black community.

"To be clear, we do not see taking the knee as a political symbol, and would contend that there can now be no doubt as to what the gesture means in a footballing context.

"Therefore, going forward, The FA will continue to monitor and investigate should similar crowd-related incidents occur."

Millwall said they were "dismayed and saddened" when loud boos were heard at their match against Derby County.

The game at The Den was their first to be attended by fans since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic in March.

Players were also booed for their show of solidarity at Colchester's 5 December game.

Colchester United's owner Robbie Cowling said fans who boo players for taking the knee will not be welcome at the club.

At Colchester's match against Cambridge United this week, more booing was heard after players on both teams took the knee. But they were drowned out by applause from the stands.

The gesture became more commonplace as the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement rose to prominence in the wake of the death of George Floyd when a US police officer knelt on his neck for almost nine minutes.

Fans who oppose the gesture insist they are not racist and claim they are doing so because they are against the political aims of the BLM movement.

However, the gesture predates the birth of the BLM movement and players have repeatedly said they are doing it simply to express their opposition to the continued oppression of black people.

Analysis: Ironically, these incidents have given taking the knee a new lease of life
By Martha Kelner, sports correspondent

The FA has said they don't consider taking the knee to be a political symbol and certainly speaking to clubs and players that is their view in the overwhelming majority; this is a peaceful yet powerful demonstration, in their minds, of equality.

I spoke to several Millwall fans outside their ground in southeast London last week, many of whom had been part of the group that booed the taking of the knee.

They defended their actions by stating the belief that taking the knee is connected to Black Lives Matter, which in turn - they say - is a Marxist movement, or simply that they'd "had enough" of the taking of the knee.

One even said the seconds-long gesture was "taking up too much" of his time.

They certainly weren't all straight-up racists; some were, but others just lacked understanding, had been misled or were simply looking for an outlet to express dissatisfaction at life right now and picked the wrong target.

The irony is that the reaction from some Millwall and Colchester fans has given taking the knee a new lease of life, suddenly it cannot be shrugged off as an empty act or bit of virtue signalling.