Millwall CEO: Booing players taking a knee is causing ‘extensive damage’

Steve Kavanagh, Millwall’s chief executive, has written to the club’s supporters to urge them to stop booing players who take the knee before kick-off as it is causing “extensive damage”.

Millwall’s 2-1 defeat to Crystal Palace at The Den in the FA Cup third round on Saturday was preceded by some home fans jeering visiting players as they made the anti-racism gesture.

Millwall players do not take a knee before kick-off, but Kavanagh says he has “lost count” of the number of fans who feel they can no longer attend matches at The Den due to the reception visiting players receive when they do so.

He also told fans that employees at the club were “understandably very upset and angry by the damage it is doing”.

In a letter published on Millwall’s website, Kavanagh wrote: “We have had extensive dialogue with different groups of fans over many months about the impact that booing the opposition taking the knee is having throughout the club.

“The way in which fans back all our anti-discrimination initiatives is clear for all to see, and that is greatly appreciated by all at the club.

“Clearly the debate around the taking of the knee is a complex one but what is inarguable is that the booing is causing extensive damage in so many different ways.

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Patrick Vieira says he is proud of Crystal Palace players who choose to take the knee and was disappointed they were booed at Millwall

“I’ve lost count of the amount of supporters who have contacted me or other staff to say they can no longer attend while the booing is going on, and we also have employees throughout the club, academy and community trust who feel understandably very upset and angry both by it and the subsequent damage it is doing.

“As our campaign asks, I again urge those booing to Think Twice.”

Millwall’s FA Cup defeat also saw Palace midfielder Michael Olise struck by a bottle thrown from a section of the ground housing home supporters, while Conor Gallagher – who is on loan from Chelsea – was subjected to homophobic abuse.

Kavanagh reiterated Millwall’s stance that any individuals found guilty of discriminatory abuse would be banned by the club for life, and added they were helping police to investigate allegations of such abuse at Saturday’s game.

“The club’s stance on discriminatory abuse of any form could not be clearer,” Kavanagh said. “There is zero-tolerance and any supporter found guilty will be banned from this club for life.

“Individuals with such unpalatable views are not welcome at Millwall Football Club.

Image: Conor Gallagher was subjected to homophobic abuse by Millwall supporters

“There was also chanting towards a Crystal Palace player which contributed, quite understandably, to widespread negative media coverage following the game. Chants including the terminology used are entirely unacceptable and cannot be tolerated.

“Again, such events could lead not just to punishment for the club but also for supporters by way of potential block or stand closures, or worse. Nobody wants that and so that should be at the forefront of minds.

“Through the work of the club’s Equality Steering Committee we will continue to support victims and work tirelessly to eradicate discriminatory behaviour for good and the assistance and support of fans is absolutely imperative to that objective.”

Millwall have also launched a campaign, called ‘Don’t be a Tosser’, aimed at preventing supporters from throwing missiles onto the field in light of the incidents against Palace.

Kavanagh also criticised supporters following reports of abuse of club staff on matchdays, and revealed Millwall will be deploying detection dogs following reports of drug taking during games.

Source : Sky Sports