Millwall have condemned their own fans after they booed players for taking the knee in support of the Black Lives Matters movement.
Club chiefs were left ‘dismayed and saddened’ the incident at The Den in what was the first game they had been allowed into the stadium in eight months.
Two-thousand supporters were permitted to watch their Championship clash with Derby County inside the stadium as it falls in Tier 2 of the government’s coronavirus restrictions.
But ahead of the 1-0 defeat, as players from Milwall and Derby bent down on one knee in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement, boos and jeers rang around the stadium from the Millwall fans.
A statement from the club on Sunday read: ‘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.
‘The impact of such incidents is felt not just by the players and management, but by those who work throughout the club and in its Academy and Community Trust, where so many staff and volunteers continue passionate endeavours to enhance Millwall’s reputation day after day, year after year.
‘The club will not allow their fine work to be in vain.
‘The players are continuing to use the biggest platform they have to support the drive for change, not just in football but in society generally.
‘Over the coming days, club, Academy and Community Trust staff will meet with Kick It Out and representatives from other appropriate bodies in an attempt to use Saturday’s events as a catalyst for more rapid solutions which have an impact both in the short and long-term.
‘Further comment will be made once those meetings and discussions are concluded.’
Earlier on Sunday morning, UK environment secretary George Eustice claimed fans who booed players should be ‘respected’.
Eustice, who claimed he had not seen the incident and that “the issue of race and racial discrimination is something that we all take very very seriously”, said: ‘My personal view is that Black Lives Matter, capital B, L and M, is actually 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.’