As both squads took the ceremonial knee in support of the Black Lives Matter movement, a wave of boos reverberated around the South East London stadium.
“Millwall Football Club was dismayed and saddened by events which marred Saturday’s game against Derby County at The Den.
"The club has worked tirelessly in recent months to prepare for the return of supporters and what should have been a positive and exciting occasion was completely overshadowed, much to the immense disappointment and upset of those who have contributed to those efforts.”
Saturday’s fixture was the first with supporters in the stadium since February 29th.
The statement continues: “The impact of such incidents is felt not just by the players and management, but by those who work throughout the club and in its Academy and Community Trust, where so many staff and volunteers continue passionate endeavours to enhance Millwall’s reputation day after day, year after year.
“The club will not allow their fine work to be in vain.
“The players are continuing to use the biggest platform they have to support the drive for change, not just in football but in society generally.
"There is much work to be done and at Millwall everyone is committed to doing all that is possible, both individually and collectively, to be a force for good and to ensure that the club remains at the forefront of football’s anti-discrimination efforts.”
The club have been praised for their community efforts in recent years, receiving the EFL Family Excellence Award for the 2016/17 season.
They were also the first club to achieve Kick It Out’s Intermediate Level Race Equality Standard award in 2010.
A ‘Hear Hate, Don’t Hesitate’ campaign was also introduced by the Lions in 2019, encouraging fans to report any incidents of discrimination in and around The Den.
The statement concludes with the club looking at their next steps:
“Over the coming days, club, Academy and Community Trust staff will meet with Kick It Out and representatives from other appropriate bodies in an attempt to use Saturday’s events as a catalyst for more rapid solutions which have an impact both in the short and long-term.”
Kick It Out statement
On the evening following the fixture, Kick It Out released their own statement regarding the incident. They said: “We are saddened by the behaviour of fans booing players taking the knee today at Millwall.
“What this demonstrates is that players are right to continue standing up to discrimination, whether that is through taking the knee or speaking out. The fight for racial equality continues and we will continue to work closely with clubs across the country to tackle discrimination in all its forms. We applaud the players for taking a stand and defying the hate shown today.”
The action of taking the knee began through NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick kneeling during the American national anthem to protest unjust police violence towards black people across the country.
Following the death of George Floyd earlier this year though, the action has received added meaning. Throughout the return of football following the COVID-19 break, matches have begun with both teams taking the knee for ten seconds before kick-off.