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7 Jun, 2021 18:54

Ex-Man United captain Ferdinand: Black Lives Matter kneeling is ‘nothing to do with politics’, there’s ‘no valid reason’ for boos

Ex-Man United captain Ferdinand: Black Lives Matter kneeling is ‘nothing to do with politics’, there’s ‘no valid reason’ for boos

Former Manchester United and England star Rio Ferdinand has claimed he can't "understand" why boos rang out when players took the knee before England games last week, calling people who link the gesture with politics "ignorant".

Defender-turned-pundit Ferdinand watched in disgust as England's players received a mixed response as they knelt on the turf in support of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) campaign at Middlesbrough's Riverside Stadium, causing disgruntled manager Gareth Southgate to pledge that they would continue with the action in defiance of its detractors.

Not for the first time in the UK, the ensuing row has provoked a range of reactions including responses from politicians, with a Conservative Member of Parliament (MP) even publicly announcing their decision to boycott Euro 2020 in disgust, while a leading Labour Party figure said the booing was a sign of racism.

"It's not a political stance," thundered Champions League winner Ferdinand, who watched every England player and almost all of their opponents in the visiting Romania team repeat the move before the Three Lions' final match ahead of the tournament on Saturday.

Also on rt.com ‘People pay money to watch football, not virtue-signaling’: England fans defend boos as jeers ring out at Riverside again (VIDEO)

"And all these ignorant people that are going 'oh yeah, it's political – BLM is a political movement – it's nothing to do with that, so take that out of your mind.

"The players and the England managers have done press conferences that are telling you 'this is not a political campaign – this is nothing to do with politics'.

"This stance is about anti-racism, people being treated the right way and respectfully, not for the color of their skin."

After opposition MP John McDonnell slated the booing as "sickening," Tory Lee Anderson hit back to assure him that the fans responsible for it are more likely to "love their football" and "not share the Marxist views of BLM" than be racist.

Also on rt.com ‘Fans are sick of being preached to’: Politicians slam kneeling England footballers, plan boycott over ‘ridiculous empty gesture’

Ferdinand is the latest ex-England international to slam those who oppose the knee in recent days, joining Gary Lineker, who said the boos symbolized the problem, and Ian Wright, who called the reasoning behind the misgivings "disingenuous".

"There's no valid reason anyone can give me for booing," Ferdinand said in a robust reaction to the supporters involved.

"They're meant to be here helping our team, wanting to push them along.

"The players' narrative around this kneeling is nothing to do with politics. They don't want injustice, they don't want people to be judged on the basis of the color of their skin.

"They're kneeling because of that, so why are you booing? I don't understand it."

Some viewers asked why Ferdinand had chosen to discuss the issue with Stephen Howson, a presenter who was seen on screen calling a player from Villarreal a "foreign f*ck" during the Europa League final penalty shootout between United and the Spanish team.

"Shocked that [Ferdinand] would use his huge social media following to amplify the voice of someone who was blatantly xenophobic on a live stream, for which I've yet to see any remorse," said one.

"This diminishes the anti-hate message [Ferdinand] puts out. Or is xenophobia ok now, Rio?"

Others clearly disagreed with Ferdinand's view that there is no politics involved in taking the knee and admitted they are tired of the interruption to the pre-match build-up.

"They’re booing because they’ve come to watch football and, after a year of being told what to do and when to do it, they don’t want any more of it," explained one.

"They’ve paid for a ticket to watch a match, not a demonstration – no matter how well intentioned it may seem."

Another said: "Some fans don't want to see protests during football matches so they have every right to 'protest the protest', even if they may actually support the cause.

"Football is considered an escape by many, not a protest avenue."

Southgate and his squad will continue to perform the act during Euro 2020, which begins this Saturday.

Also on rt.com Football boo boys ‘don’t understand’ the message behind taking a knee, claims England boss Southgate