I was at the Shrewsbury game on Friday and as usual, the Sunderland team neglected to take the knee, despite almost all other teams doing so. Even Shrewsbury took the knee.
As they did so there were audible boos coming from Sunderland fans.
I was sitting in the west stand, and although they weren’t too loud, it was audible enough to shock me somewhat.
The more I thought about it, the more shocked I became, so I used the ITHICS Fanzine Twitter feed to vent my spleen.
It’s embarrassing enough that we don’t take the knee before kickoff. It makes it so much worse that our fans boo opposing teams doing so. Makes me ashamed.— It's the Hope... (@ithics1) April 16, 2022
I don’t think I’ve had so much response to something I actually wrote myself, rather and retweeting.
Some of the responses deserve some reply.
One said “All about choices, freedom of choices.”
What’s that, the freedom to rebuke players who want to highlight the injustices many in the game feel? The right to play the game without being racially, sexually or homophobically abused?
So in booing those taking the knee you’re saying that you have no right to protest against the injustices in the game?
I must highlight that many replies were in support of me.
One person asserted that taking the knee was an empty gesture. Really? Do you think asking for equality is an empty gesture? As another Twitter user said, if the gesture were empty, people wouldn’t be booing it.
In response to why we should take the knee, I couldn’t put it better than Alan Morton, when he said: “the reason for it is to support the stance against racism. Most clubs take the knee and it’s embarrassing that we don’t, especially with black players in our squad. It’s made more embarrassing by the ignorance of booing from certain sections of the crowd.”
Some replied and claimed that they wouldn’t support an organisation like BLM because of its supposedly Marxist origins, and that George Flloyd was a career criminal (who deserved to die?). Well, that’s just ludicrous. Taking the knee is an anti-racist stance and booing it is a racist gesture. No ifs, no buts.
Joey Burton went further with this: “…the club published a statement in the Autumn condemning people who boo and committed to taking the knee… they caved in to the pressure from the racists.”
I’m not saying this was the reason for the decision not to take the knee, but clubs like West Ham had fans booing when players took the knee, but the club persisted - and there were no boos when the club played Lyon a week or so ago.
Surely highlighting injustice is the right thing to do. Or are Sunderland fans going to fall into the hands of the racists who have a far more sinister agenda?