The chairman of a Welsh football club is launching an investigation into why players did not kneel to Black Lives Matter ahead of a match.
Newport County Association Football Club chairman Gavin Foxall, who is white, was raked over the coals by former professional football player Nathan Blake, who is black, on BBC Radio Wales for the failure to show due deference to the Black Lives Matter movement at an English Football League Two match against Tranmere Rovers.
“Let me just say this is Newport… it’s probably one of the biggest black populations in Great Britain,” hectored Blake.
“You have fans here who are black, white, Asian. Don’t you feel accountability and responsibility to those people?” he demanded — apparently feeling it is the duty of club chairman to ensure that all players take part in the supposedly voluntary gesture.
“Racism doesn’t have a place in society, let alone in football, and as a football club we’re fully behind that,” Foxall answered.
“I don’t know why that didn’t happen today. As I say, there is a protocol for it, which is instigated by the referee with the two captains.
“Rest assured this club is fully behind the campaign and we want to live that out and we need to live that out,” Foxall pleaded.
A row has erupted after players did not take a knee ahead of Newport County's League Two win against Tranmere Rovers.
— BBC Sport (@BBCSport) October 17, 2020
Foxall had explained that it was his understanding that the ritual kneeling which has taken place before many professional football matches for months now is typically “something that the referee instigates before a game. It’s agreed with the two captains.”
“I don’t know why that wasn’t the case today and as a club we’ll take that away and have that discussion and see why that wasn’t the case.
“But I would say though as a club yesterday [Friday], we supported the Wear Red Day campaign [to support Show Racism the Red Card] and as you will see from our shirts as well — we support the campaign of today or any day,” he added submissively.
According to English Football League (EFL) guidance, it is, at least on paper, “the choice of an individual player or players if they wish to take the knee”.
There are few if any examples of players swimming against the tide in British soccer, although a few have dared to defy BLM in other top sports. Australia-born English national rugby team star Billy Vunipola, for example, has refused to “take the knee”, saying the movement is “not aligned with what I believe in.”
“They were burning churches and Bibles. I can’t support that,” he explained.
“Even though I am a person of colour, I’m still more a person of, I guess, Jesus.”
Rugby Star Refused to Kneel for BLM for 'Burning Churches and Bibles' https://t.co/6IhzKB6kGY
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) August 22, 2020