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Players ‘overwhelmingly support’ continuing to take a knee, says PFA after consultation

Players, officials and staff at Premier League and EFL games have been taking a knee since the 2019-20 season restarted in June to show their support for the movement for racial equality

Players are “overwhelmingly in support” of continuing to take a knee to highlight racial inequality and fight discrimination, says the Professional Footballers’ Association.

The players’ union consulted members on whether they wanted to continue the gesture after some fans booed it.

Members were asked whether an alternative should explored, but they wanted to continue with “this act of solidarity” before kick-off.

“The results were clear,” said the PFA.

“Players overwhelmingly support continuing this act of solidarity despite any adverse responses that may be received.”

The union added there had been a “lack of leadership” for English Football League players, who had been left in a “difficult position” following the recent negative crowd reaction at several matches across the EFL.

But it said the outcome of its consultation with players from the Premier League, EFL and Women’s Super League (WSL) should give “the EFL and the clubs involved the information needed to support the players”.

A number of Millwall, Colchester United and Cambridge United fans booed their players taking a knee before kick-off in the past two weeks. One supporter was heard booing at Exeter City and was ejected from the ground as a result.

The Millwall Supporters’ Club said the booing before the south London club’s match against Derby was not motivated by racism, but “in opposition to the political views held by the Black Lives Matter organisation”.

England manager Gareth Southgate was among those who said he views taking the knee as showing solidarity and not a political statement.

“This powerful symbol of solidarity represents the players’ commitment to anti-racism and is not an endorsement of any political position,” added the PFA.

“It is a peaceful act of unity that highlights a persistent and systemic issue.”

Among the widespread condemnation, Cambridge chief executive Ian Mather described the booing as “completely abhorrent to anything the club stands for”, though he praised other supporters for attempting to drown it out with applause.

He said that the club would support players continuing to take a knee, and any fans who booed would face a ban.

However, at Millwall’s first home fixture after the fans booed, the players linked arms with QPR players instead of kneeling.

“The initiative has been player-led from the outset,” said Jason Lee, the PFA equalities executive.

“The purpose of the discussions and survey was to make sure that we were continuing to represent what the players wanted on this issue.

“We can now take this position forward with authority when in dialogue with media, clubs and the EFL.”

Following the news that Millwall players would be linking arms with QPR, the EFL said: “Our position remains unchanged and we will continue to support the wishes of our clubs’ players either on an individual or collective basis.

“We will facilitate the communication of the message that discrimination in any form is unacceptable and not welcome within our game or our communities – Not Today or Any Day.”

The FA is investigating the “crowd-related incidents” at Millwall, Colchester and Cambridge.

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