Football fans have taken to social media in their droves after Sky Sports and the Premier League began to distance themselves from the political activism of Black Lives Matters UK.
Top-flight players have taken a knee before every match in Project Restart, with badges also worn on the shirt sleeves of all 20 clubs, but there has been plenty of controversy over the UK arm of the organisation.
Over the last few days, the official BLM UK Twitter account has caused controversy by calling for the overthrow of capitalism, reductions in police funding and an end to free trade with Israel.
Jamie Redknapp (pictured left on Tuesday night) and Patrice Evra did not wear BLM badges on air for the Manchester United game. Ten days ago, Redknapp did wear the pin on his suit (right)
The pair’s decision to not wear their Black Lives Matter badges hit the headlines on Tuesday
Fans were quick to take to Twitter to give their thoughts on pundits’ decision to snub BLM UK
On Tuesday night, Patrice Evra, Jamie Redknapp and Gary Neville had all ditched their Black Lives Matter badges during Sky’s coverage of Manchester United’s win over Brighton.
The decision came just hours after Matt Le Tissier, another of the channel’s top pundits, had exclusively told Sportsmail that he was asked by bosses to wear the Black Lives Matter badge, but stressed he ‘could not support’ the cause’s anti police and capitalist aims, while former Wolves midfielder Karl Henry had also slammed the organisation on Twitter.
Upon seeing that Sky’s top pundits had stopped wearing BLM badges on air, fans were quick to share their thoughts on Twitter, with one fan noting: ‘If only they’d done a little research like us peasants did before jumping in with both feet.’
Another wrote: ‘Maybe research an organisation next time blokes before you support their “cause”‘, while someone else posted: ‘Slowly people are realising BLM is an antisemitic, anarchistic anti white, anti law and order movement, and regretting their foolish support’.
Matt Le Tissier says he will wear Black Lives Matter badges (circled) on Sky Sports but does not support their anti-capitalism and defund the police aims
Former Liverpool star Jamie Carragher is another pundit to wear the Black Lives Matter badge
Twitter users urged Sky pundits to ‘research an organisation before supporting their cause’
Black Lives Matter want to bring to an end racial injustice and police brutality, but in recent weeks have called for a cut in money to law enforcement to create a ‘people’s budget’.
The UK arm of the group has said it wants to defund the police completely and abolish capitalism and has pledged support for Palestine amid Israel’s plans to annex the West Bank.
Le Tissier says that he agreed to wear the badge because he supported the cause, but pointed out the organisation did not have his backing.
Speaking outside his home near Southampton, he said: ‘I just don’t agree with some of the points of that movement – specifically the defunding of the police and the anti capitalist points are things I do not agree with.
Premier League players having been taking a knee before every match since the restart
On Sunday, BLM UK issued a barrage of tweets over Israel’s proposed annexation of the West Bank and claimed ‘mainstream British politics is gagged of the right to critique Zionism.’
The official Twitter account of the UK arm of BLM has caused plenty of controversy this week
Black Lives Matter: Group wants to abolish the police, smash capitalism and close all prisons
Black Lives Matter UK is the semi-official British offshoot of its American counterpart and has been the face of the UK’s protests over George Floyd’s death and racial equailty.
But while hundreds of thousands of people have donated millions to their cause, many will be unaware on many of the group’s more extreme aims.
The UK branch, just like the American arm of the movement, has a number of far-Left aims listed on its wesbite.
They include the Marxist ‘commitment to dismantle capitalism’.
Elsewhere the group says it wants to use money it has raised to develop and deliver strategies ‘for the abolition of the police’.
The official Twitter account of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) UK movement has also been caught up in an antisemitism row.
It tweeted in support of Palestine over plans by Israel to annex its West Bank settlements.
The verified account claimed mainstream British politics were being ‘gagged of the right to critique Zionism,’ before Tweeting that the movement ‘loudly and clearly stands beside our Palestinian comrades’ and adding in block capitals ‘FREE PALESTINE’.
It sparked anger among the Jewish community, with some describing the idea of politicians being ‘gagged’ over their criticism of Zionism as being an ‘antisemitic trope’.
The Campaign Against Antisemitism (CAA) said: ‘BLM should aspire to be a movement against racism that unifies people and achieves lasting change, not a movement that spreads hatred and achieves lasting division.
‘You cannot fight prejudice with prejudice.’
The group has been active online since mid-2016.
In December that year it endorsed the complete closure of all Britain’s prisons and detention centres, saying they were ‘inhumane, overcrowded and unsafe’.
The group has also expressed its opposition on Twitter to government initiatives including reform of the benefits system via the introduction of Universal Credit and the licensing of fracking.
It has attacked everyone from Oxfam (‘big charities are nothing more than colonisers for the 21st century’) to Sir David Attenborough.
The group accused an episode of his 2018 TV series Dynasties, on chimpanzees, of being racist because the BBC naturalist complained that habitat destruction due to overpopulation was threatening the species with extinction.
‘Human activities can obviously compete with wildlife,’ the anomymous BLM Tweeter opined. ‘But ‘too many people’ always has a silent ‘black’.’
‘They are the two main points for me. I am quite happy for them to have their point of view, but that is mine and that is where I sit.
‘I think a lot of people in the country would agree with me. I will still wear the badge because I do of course believe black lives matter. It’s a simple thing.
‘I agree with the cause but there are parts of the organisation that I just cannot support.’
Elsewhere, the Premier League is also considering its own position amid rising controversy surrounding the UK wing of Black Lives Matter.
While the players are still keen to endorse the sentiment behind the movement, Sportsmail exclusively revealed on Tuesday night that they are keen to distance themselves from the UK organisation, and a group of captains are considering whether to make a public statement on the matter.
Fans also spoke out on this, with one fan writing: ‘I mean they have only realised this now… wow. Defunding police, ending capitalism, white people to pay reparations for history they weren’t even alive for.’
One other fan claimed: ‘The damage to their precious brand was done the minute they embarked on this road. Non-political my a***,’ while another Twitter user claimed that it was too late for players to go back: ‘Too late to have fears, they are now fully signed-up members, as are the Premier League and the FA.’
On Tuesday, the Premier League said it recognised ‘the importance of the message that black lives matter’ but made clear that it ‘does not endorse any political organisation or movement, nor support any group that calls for violence or condones illegal activity.’
Until the Sky Sports presenters’ decided to stop wearing their badges, Le Tissier and former Wolves star Henry were the only high-profile voices in football to so far raise concerns about the UK arm of BLM, which has protested over the killing of George Floyd by a white policeman in the US.
Until the pair spoke out, the sport had completely embraced the movement, with players taking the knee before Premier League and Championship matches kicked off.
Presenters and guests on Sky Sports have worn BLM badges when appearing on programmes, but now Le Tissier says he has held talks with his bosses about this.
Meanwhile Henry has called for a ‘new inclusive and politically-neutral anti-racism movement’ after savaging the UK group online.
‘I think the majority of the UK have now had enough of that organisation,’ wrote Henry on Twitter. ‘A new inclusive and politically neutral anti-racism movement to follow and get behind is much needed. Black people’s lives matter! The divisive #BlackLivesMatter organisation, however, DOES NOT.’
The Premier League have not provided any funding to BLM UK and chief executive Richard Masters told MPs on Tuesday that his organisation remain apolitical.
Appearing before a select committee of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, Masters attempted to draw a distinction between moral and political causes, although this position was criticised by Sunderland MP Julie Elliott, who accused him of ‘opening a can of worms’.
The Premier League and the FA prohibit participants in the game from making political statements, with Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola fined two years ago by the latter for wearing a ribbon in support of Catalan independence.
Former Manchester United full back Patrice Evra also opted not to wear his badge this week
Karl Henry spoke out against Black Lives Matter UK over their anti-capitalism and stance on trying to abolish the police (pictured here playing for Bolton in 2018)
Fans also responded to the news that Premier League players are now distancing themselves