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Millwall star Mahlon Romeo has provided a powerful response to yesterday’s gruesome scenes when club fans booed players for kneeling before their Championship clash with Derby County.
Since football returned in the summer, it has become a custom for players to kneel before kick-off, in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement that has attracted special attention this year following the death of George Floyd at the hands of the police. in May. .
Some have responded to the movement and kneeling gesture, and Millwall fans weren’t the only ones to boo their players yesterday as spectators returned to the stadiums for the first time since March.
It was certainly disappointing to see some fans boo the gestures of an anti-racism movement, and it provides us with a stark reminder of the work that must be done to eliminate racism from sport and indeed from society at large.
Romeo didn’t hold back from hitting back at Millwall fans for this, saying, as quoted by London News Online: “Today’s game, for me now, has become irrelevant. The fans have been allowed in, which the whole team was hoping for. But in society there is a problem, and that problem is racism.
“The fans who have been able to enter today have personally disrespected not only me, but the football club. And what the football club and the community represent. What they have done is boo and condemn a peaceful gesture that was put in place to highlight, combat and stop any discriminatory and racist behavior. That’s it, that’s all that gesture.
“And the fans have chosen to boo that, which for the life of me I cannot understand. It has offended me and everyone who works for this club: the players and the staff.
“I am speaking on my behalf here, not on any of the other players, I want to make that very clear. This is the first time I have felt disrespected. Because he has booed and condemned a gesture of peace that, and it must be repeated, was put in place to highlight, combat and address any discriminatory behavior and racism in general.
“I am almost speechless. I don’t know how they thought that would make me feel. I don’t know what they thought kneeling meant. But I think I have explained it quite simply. I feel very bad, probably the lowest I have felt in my time at this club.
“It is something that I cannot understand. People will have their beliefs and points of view, to which everyone is also entitled. I’m not trying to stop or hold back, but if your beliefs and views are opposed to positive change in society, then don’t come to a soccer field and spread it out.
“If it’s negative, don’t think you can come to a soccer field and this is the place where you can essentially spread hate.”