The weekend should have been an exciting occasion for the football world as fans were welcomed back into stadiums for the first time since lockdown began. Sadly, the excitement was overshadowed by the actions of some fans in a number of pre-match incidents.
As players, club staff and officials took the knee in support of the Black Lives Matter movement as they have done before each of their games this season, some fans proceeded to boo and gesture. Milllwall, who hosted 2,000 fans at their game on Saturday against Derby, released a statement following the incident to say the club were: "dismayed and saddened by events which marred Saturday's game against Derby County at the Den.
"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."
Wayne Rooney, Derby interim manager whose side won Saturday's game, took to his social media to express his disappointment in the fans actions: " ‘I was proud of my players and staff for not letting the fans deter them from continuing to present a positive and important message that taking the knee immediately before a game sends. ‘The professionalism of the players on both sides throughout the game was a credit to our profession, after such an incident.
"On behalf of Derby County Football Club I want it to be clear to everyone associated with the club that we represent all sectors of our community regardless of colour, gender or sexuality."
Derby forward Colin Kazim-Richards also took to his social media to condemn the behaviour of the fans booing, saying it was an "absolute disgrace"
Unfortunately, the game at the Den wasn't the only fixture to see this type of disruption. Colchester United also experienced a section of their own supporters could be heard booing players ahead of their game against Grimsby Town. Colchester United owner and Chairman Robbie Cowling released a statement his dismay at the fans actions, offering to "refund anyone for the remaining value of their season permit if that is the reason they feel they can no longer attend our games."
"It was so good to welcome our fans back into our stadium on Saturday for our League Two game against Grimsby and so much about the day was perfect.
"However, the game is not being talked about for all of the things I mentioned above but because of the ridiculous actions of a few who decided to boo our players whilst they took the knee before kick- off.
"Those that take the knee want to highlight that all lives should be valued and should not be treated inhumanely or inferior to others just because of their race. It is undeniable that black and other ethnic minority people are still the victims of racism, and the black footballers and staff at Colchester United feel that they are in a position of privilege that has been fought for through the blood and sweat of their ancestors.
"A position that in 2020 the average black person is still not afforded. Those taking the knee, and supporting the taking of the knee, not only shows their willingness to support the drive to eradicate racial oppression but force it to be a talking point even when it’s uncomfortable."
The PFA condemns booing of players taking the knee and fully supports the players’ right to take the knee, whilst understanding it is the responsibility of the football authorities to continue to push and challenge inequalities in football.