England football players taking a knee ‘is divisive’ - Chichester MP

England’s football players taking a knee before games is ‘creating new divisions’, according to Chichester’s MP.

England players taking a knee before their game against Romania (Photo by PAUL ELLIS/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
England players taking a knee before their game against Romania (Photo by PAUL ELLIS/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Back in 2016, American football player Colin Kaepernick knelt during the national anthem to highlight issues of racism and police brutality.

The form of protest has spread to other sports and events, especially since the killing of George Floyd last year and the increased prominence of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Last week, some England football fans have booed their players for taking the knee before friendly games against Austria and Romania in the lead up to Euro 2020.

Panellists on BBC’s Question Time programme last night were asked if taking a knee is ‘habitual tokenism or a massive step towards tackling racism’.

Chichester MP Gillian Keegan who is also government minister for skills and apprenticeships, said: “The key point about all of this is, and I think we have heard it in the audience, is there’s nobody who doesn’t want to end racism, it’s disgraceful, it’s so impactful, harmful and discriminatory and it does still happen today and we know it still happens today. But what’s happening here is this in itself has actually being more divisive.

“It’s creating new divisions. People have to make their own decisions and it goes back to free speech but actually what we have ended up with, whether it’s the statues, whether it’s the Queen’s picture, whether it’s taking the knee, we have ended up with these things being things that kind of divide us and actually united societies are what solve these big issues. They’ll solve climate change, they’ll solve racism, they’ll solve the vaccines situation we have been talking about and the global pandemic.

“You need to be united to do that and this is divisive.”

Pressed by Fiona Bruce on whether she thought England footballers taking a knee was a good idea, she added: “It’s not my judgement whether they should take a knee or not they are perfectly free to do what they want.

“If you want to say: ‘Do I think it’s symbolism more than action?’ of course it is. The most important thing is the action we have seen is creating division. And by the way, the people who are booing I’m pretty sure most of them would like to end racism as well.

“There are different things that people are interpreting. There are some Conservative MPs who are very much against it. Why? Because Black Lives Matter stands for things that they do not stand for. It’s really about defunding police and the overthrow of capitalism which is actually the political organisation.”