Ashfield MP Lee Anderson sparks controversy over stance on England's footballers 'taking the knee'

Ashfield MP Lee Anderson insists he will not be watching his ‘beloved’ England in the forthcoming Euro 2020 after the players took the knee in warm-up games.

Tuesday, 8th June 2021, 6:16 pm

Mr Anderson weighed into the debate after the national side performed the anti-racisim act ahead of the game against Austria at Middlesbrough’s Riverside Stadium last Wednesday.

They also took the knee before the friendly with Romania, again played at the Riverside, on Sunday – prompting boos from a section of support at both games.

England boss Gareth Southgate criticised fans who booed and insisted the taking of the knee was not performed to make a ‘political stand’ but was instead an anti-racism gesture and a mark of solidarity between players.

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England players Kalvin Phillips and Jack Grealish take the knee before the friendly with Romania at the Riverside on Sunday. (Photo by PAUL ELLIS/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

However, Mr Anderson, disagreed and took to his Facebook page to outline his stance.

He wrote: “The FA and the England football team have made a big mistake in supporting the taking of the knee before football matches ahead of the European Championships.

“The FA, Premier League and footballers now run the risk of becoming like the Labour Party and that is having nothing in common with their traditional supporters.

“All forms of racism are vile and should be stamped out - but this is not the way.

Ashfield MP, Lee Anderson.

“For the first time in my life I will not be watching my beloved England team whilst they are supporting a political movement whose core principles aim to undermine our very way of life.”

His post led to more than 1,600 comments and appeared to divide opinion.

David Hedgcock wrote: “Well said Lee, sooner more prominent people like yourselves speak out against this practice the better. I’m convinced since the rise of the BLM movement ‘ordinary’ people have switched off and disassociated themselves from this ongoing argument.”

But former Mansfield Town footballer Jonathan D'Laryea said the MP was wrong to say the players taking the knee was about the Black Lives Matters movement.

"They aren’t supporting the political BLM movement at all,” he wrote in response. “Their taking of the knee is not in relation to the political element of the Black Lives Matter organisation.

“Clearly a lack of education and understanding from a so called politician. I am sure the England football team will be fine without your support.”