Spanish populist VOX party leader Santiago Abascal criticised the BLM-associated knee gesture at the Euro 2020 tournament and wanted the Spanish national football team not to do it.
Prior to Spain’s opening match against Sweden on Monday, Abascal wrote: “Disguised as a gesture against racism, some are determined to bring nations to their knees. We are seeing it in sport.”
“Spain must not kneel before those who insult our history and the legacy of a nation that never looked at the colour of its skin,” he added with a picture stating: “Spain Does not Kneel.”
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According to a report from the Daily Mail, Spanish football fans, much like VOX leader Abascal, were not happy at the idea of the Spanish side taking the knee, which is often associated with the Marxist Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement, either.
Spanish football fans took to social media using the hashtag “#SiSeArrodillanApagaLaTele” or “if they take a knee, turn off the TV”, threatening to boycott the Euro 2020 tournament.
Abascal and VOX are not the only populist-conservative politicians to express anger at their national football players taking the knee.
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán criticised the gesture last week, calling it a “provocation”, and agreed with fans who booed players who took the knee.
“We can only see this gesture system from our cultural vantage point as unintelligible, as a provocation,” he said and added: “The fans reacted the way those who are provoked usually react to provocation. They do not always choose the most elegant form (of reaction) but we have to understand their reasons… I agree with the fans.”
The comments on the Spanish football side come after VOX had a good showing in the recent Madrid elections, increasing their seats from 12 to 13 and are in a position to influence the Popular Party (PP), which won the vote but was unable to secure a majority.
VOX is also well-known for their anti-mass migration stances. After the mass migration of thousands into the Spanish North African enclave in Ceuta, leader Santiago Abascal visited the enclave in May, calling for the army to be involved in stopping illegals.
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Abascal revisited the enclave later in the month. A riot broke out in front of his hotel, allegedly involving migrants who had crossed from Morocco during the storming of the border. Two people were arrested and seven police injured in the violence.
A fairly new party, VOX was formed in 2013 but until 2019 was only able to secure less than one per cent of the vote in national elections.
In the most recent national election in November 2019, the second election that year, the party received over 3.6 million votes, becoming the third-largest in the country.