Sky pundits Redknapp and Evra DITCH badges for Black Lives Matter

Sky Sports pundits Jamie Redknapp and Patrice Evra DITCH badges for Black Lives Matter as football captains consider making public statement over links to organisation and Premier League distances themselves following group’s extreme statements

  • Since the league resumed, guests appearing on Sky Sports have worn badges with the campaign phrase after all 20 clubs agreed to emblazon ‘Black Lives Matter’ on their shirts for the first round of games
  • Players have also ‘taken the knee’ before matches, a symbol adopted by US athletes to protest police brutality and racism and which has been used by BLM protesters across the world since the killing of George Floyd
  • But concerns have been raised after a series of tweets by the UK branch of Black Lives Matter which criticised Israel and called on the British government to ‘defund the police’ 
  • Yesterday studio guests Patrice Evra and Jamie Redknapp and commentator Gary Neville all failed to wear a BLM lapel badge 
  • The Premier League said it recognised ‘the importance of the message that black lives matter’ but made clear that it ‘does not endorse any political organisation or movement, nor support any group that calls for violence or condones illegal activity’  
  • Sportsmail can reveal that the issue has been discussed by several players, with a group of top-flight captains considering whether to make a public statement on the matter 

Advertisement

Sky Sports pundits Jamie Redknapp and Patrice Evra ditched their Black Lives Matter badges last night as football captains considered making a statement on the movement which the Premier League has distanced itself from. 

Redknapp and Evra along with host Kelly Cates and commentator Gary Neville were not wearing the badges during Sky’s coverage of Brighton v Manchester United, during which players knelt before kickoff and had ‘Black Lives Matter’ on their sleeves.

Since the league resumed, guests appearing on Sky Sports have worn the badges with the campaign phrase after all 20 clubs agreed to emblazon ‘Black Lives Matter’ on their shirts for the first round of games following the Covid-19 break. 

Players and officials have also ‘taken the knee’ before matches, a symbol which was adopted by American athletes to protest police brutality and racism in 2016 and which has been used by Black Lives Matter protesters across the world since the killing of George Floyd.

But concerns have been raised after a series of tweets by the UK branch of Black Lives Matter which criticised Israel and called on the British government to ‘defund the police’.

On Tuesday, the Premier League said it recognised ‘the importance of the message that black lives matter’ but made clear that it ‘does not endorse any political organisation or movement, nor support any group that calls for violence or condones illegal activity.’ 

And Sportsmail can reveal that the issue has been discussed by several players, with a group of top-flight captains considering whether to make a public statement on the matter.  

While the players remain united in campaigning for equality and committed to maintaining such symbolic gestures for the remainder of the season, some are concerned about being associated with the political activism of Black Lives Matter UK. 

On Sunday, Black Lives Matter UK issued a barrage of tweets over Israel’s proposed annexation of the West Bank and claimed that ‘mainstream British politics is gagged of the right to critique Zionism.’ 

The following day Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, who has ‘taken the knee’ alongside parliamentary colleagues, called it a ‘shame’ that the sentiment behind the Black Lives Matter protests was getting ‘tangled up with these organisational issues’ and said calls to defund the police were ‘nonsense.’

Black Lives Matter UK responded by tweeting that ‘as a public prosecutor, Sir Keir Starmer was a cop in an expensive suit.’

Sky Sports’ ditching of the Black Lives Matter badges during Tuesday’s coverage of Brighton v Manchester United comes after another pundit, Matt Le Tissier, said he only wore the badge after being asked to do so by bosses at the broadcaster.  

Pundits Jamie Redknapp, pictured, and Patrice Evra were not wearing Black Lives Matter badges when appearing on tonight's show on Sky Sports

Pundits Jamie Redknapp, pictured, and Patrice Evra were not wearing Black Lives Matter badges when appearing on tonight’s show on Sky Sports

The pair were discussing Brighton v Manchester United on Sky Sports tonight

The pair were discussing Brighton v Manchester United on Sky Sports tonight

Patrice Evra, pictured, who also appeared on tonight's show, did not wear a BLM badge

Patrice Evra, pictured, who also appeared on tonight’s show, did not wear a BLM badge

Mr Le Tissier, 51, criticised the group’s ‘far-left ideology’ and said he ‘could not support’ the cause’s anti-police and anti-capitalist aims. 

He had, along with fellow Sky pundit Jamie Carragher appeared on air wearing a Black Lives Matter badge but said he only did so after being asked to. 

Sky Sports said the issue of wearing the BLM badge was a matter of individual choice.  

The players’ call to endorse the sentiment behind the Black Lives Matter movement — the need for action to ensure greater equality and an expression of solidarity with those who have suffered persecution because of their race — was instrumental in persuading the Premier League to make the campaign such a visible part of Project Restart.

Every game since the resumption has been prefaced by players and match officials taking a knee in tribute to George Floyd, while the partner of Watford captain Troy Deeney designed a BLM logo which features on the shirts of all 20 Premier League clubs. 

In yesterday’s statement, the Premier League said it stands alongside clubs and footballing bodies in supporting people who have ‘come together in recent weeks to reject racism and to show support for the message that black lives matter.’

The Premier League has distanced itself from Black Lives Matter and said it 'does not endorse' the group after pundit Matt Le Tissier said he only wore their badge (circled) on TV after being asked to by Sky Sports bosses

The Premier League has distanced itself from Black Lives Matter and said it ‘does not endorse’ the group after pundit Matt Le Tissier said he only wore their badge (circled) on TV after being asked to by Sky Sports bosses

The body said in a statement that while there is 'no room for racism in football', it does not support any 'political organisation or movement', nor any group which 'calls for violence or condones illegal activity'. Pictured: Former Liverpool player Jamie Carragher wearing a BLM badge on June 21

The body said in a statement that while there is ‘no room for racism in football’, it does not support any ‘political organisation or movement’, nor any group which ‘calls for violence or condones illegal activity’. Pictured: Former Liverpool player Jamie Carragher wearing a BLM badge on June 21

The dramatic about-turn came even though dozens of Premier League footballers have taken the knee - the symbol of the BLM movement - since the restart of the competition earlier this month

The dramatic about-turn came even though dozens of Premier League footballers have taken the knee – the symbol of the BLM movement – since the restart of the competition earlier this month 

On Sunday, Black Lives Matter UK issued a barrage of tweets over Israel's proposed annexation of the West Bank and claimed that 'mainstream British politics is gagged of the right to critique Zionism'

On Sunday, Black Lives Matter UK issued a barrage of tweets over Israel’s proposed annexation of the West Bank and claimed that ‘mainstream British politics is gagged of the right to critique Zionism’

On Sunday, Black Lives Matter UK issued a barrage of tweets over Israel's proposed annexation of the West Bank and claimed that 'mainstream British politics is gagged of the right to critique Zionism.' The following day Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, who has 'taken the knee' alongside parliamentary colleagues, called it a 'shame' that the sentiment behind the Black Lives Matter protests was getting 'tangled up with these organisational issues' and said calls to defund the police were 'nonsense.'

On Sunday, Black Lives Matter UK issued a barrage of tweets over Israel’s proposed annexation of the West Bank and claimed that ‘mainstream British politics is gagged of the right to critique Zionism.’ The following day Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, who has ‘taken the knee’ alongside parliamentary colleagues, called it a ‘shame’ that the sentiment behind the Black Lives Matter protests was getting ‘tangled up with these organisational issues’ and said calls to defund the police were ‘nonsense.’

The Premier League’s statement in full

The Premier League stands alongside players, clubs, The FA, EFL, PFA, LMA, PGMOL and all those who have come together in recent weeks to reject racism and to show support for the message that black lives matter. These three words have become an expression of unity for people from all communities who believe it is unacceptable to treat black people differently to anyone else.

In an unprecedented move, Premier League players from all 20 clubs united in solidarity with this message and the Premier League supported their request to replace their names on the back of playing shirts with ‘Black Lives Matter’.

The Premier League offered this backing as we wholly agree with the players’ single objective of eradicating racial prejudice wherever it exists. And we are unequivocal in the belief that there is no room for racism in our competition, football as a whole, or the wider community. Together, all professional football bodies and the players and managers recognise the importance of the message that black lives matter. However, we do not endorse any political organisation or movement, nor support any group that calls for violence or condones illegal activity.

We are aware of the risk posed by groups that seek to hijack popular causes and campaigns to promote their own political views. These actions are entirely unwelcome and are rejected by the Premier League and all other professional football bodies, and they underline the importance of our sport coming together to declare a very clear position against prejudice. We want our message to be a positive one that recognises football has the power to bring people together.

As the players have made clear, we will all continue to work to promote equality of opportunity – regardless of colour or creed – and celebrate the advantages of diversity wherever we can.

The Premier League believes there is no room for racism or any form of discrimination, anywhere #NoRoomforRacism.

Advertisement

However, it then went on: ‘We do not endorse any political organisation or movement, nor support any group that calls for violence or condones illegal activity.

‘We are aware of the risk posed by groups that seek to hijack popular causes and campaigns to promote their own political views. 

‘These actions are entirely unwelcome and are rejected by the Premier League and all other professional football bodies, and they underline the importance of our sport coming together to declare a very clear position against prejudice.’ 

The message came after the UK arm of Black Lives Matter said it wants to defund the police completely and abolish capitalism and has pledged support for Palestine amid Israel’s plans to annex the West Bank.  

The group’s other aims prompted Le Tissier to tell MailOnline on Friday to air his criticism. 

His words followed black footballer Karl Henry, who branded the group ‘divisive’.   

Le Tissier said bosses at Sky had asked him and other pundits to wear the logo for their appearances and he agreed, but pointed out he supported ‘the cause, not the organisation’. 

Speaking outside his home near Southampton, Hants, he said: ‘I just don’t agree with some of the points of that movement – specifically the defunding of the police and the anti capitalist points are things I do not agree with.

‘They are the two main points for me. I am quite happy for them to have their point of view, but that is mine and that is where I sit.

‘I think a lot of people in the country would agree with me.

‘I will still wear the badge because I do of course believe black lives matter. It’s a simple thing,

‘I agree with the cause but there are parts of the organisation that I just cannot support.’

When asked whether pundits on Sky Sports had been told to wear the badge, Le Tissier laughed and said: ‘We were asked to wear it.’ 

He and Henry had been the only high-profile voices in football so far to raise concerns about the UK arm, which has protested over the killing of George Floyd by a white policeman in the US.

Until them the sport had completely embraced the movement, with players taking the knee before Premier League and Championship matches kicked off.

But the past few days has seen the group embroiled in an anti-Semitism row and criticism of its ‘defund the police’ agenda. 

Presenters and guests on Sky Sports have worn BLM badges when appearing on programmes, but now Le Tissier says he has held talks with his bosses about this.

Meanwhile Henry has called for a ‘new inclusive and politically-neutral anti-racism movement’ after savaging the UK group online.

In response, the channel said no-one was obliged to wear the logo, with a source adding it supported the group simply for its anti-racism stance.

The Southampton legend and former England international replied to a tweet accusing him of ‘promoting a far-left ideology’ and said he had spoken with Sky Sports chiefs about the matter.  

Le Tissier is one of football’s most popular pundits after a glittering career at Southampton and was voted the greatest Premier League player of all time in a Eurosport poll. 

Karl Henry spoke out against Black Lives Matter UK over their anti-capitalism and stance on trying to abolish the police (pictured here playing for Bolton in 2018)

Karl Henry spoke out against Black Lives Matter UK over their anti-capitalism and stance on trying to abolish the police (pictured here playing for Bolton in 2018)

 

Le Tissier appeared to echo tweets by former Wolves player Karl Henry who said he thought the public had tired of the Black Lives Matter UK organisation

Le Tissier appeared to echo tweets by former Wolves player Karl Henry who said he thought the public had tired of the Black Lives Matter UK organisation

Black Lives Matter: Group wants to abolish the police, smash capitalism and close all prisons

Black Lives Matter UK is the semi-official British offshoot of its American counterpart and has been the face of the UK’s protests over George Floyd’s death and racial equailty.

But while hundreds of thousands of people have donated millions to their cause, many will be unaware on many of the group’s more extreme aims.

The UK branch, just like the American arm of the movement, has a number of far-Left aims listed on its  wesbite.

They include the Marxist ‘commitment to dismantle capitalism’.

Elsewhere the group says it wants to use money it has raised to develop and deliver strategies ‘for the abolition of the police’.

The official Twitter account of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) UK movement has also been caught up in an antisemitism row.

It tweeted in support of Palestine over plans by Israel to annex its West Bank settlements.

The verified account claimed mainstream British politics were being ‘gagged of the right to critique Zionism,’ before Tweeting that the movement ‘loudly and clearly stands beside our Palestinian comrades’ and adding in block capitals ‘FREE PALESTINE’.

It sparked anger among the Jewish community, with some describing the idea of politicians being ‘gagged’ over their criticism of Zionism as being an ‘antisemitic trope’.

 The Campaign Against Antisemitism (CAA) said: ‘BLM should aspire to be a movement against racism that unifies people and achieves lasting change, not a movement that spreads hatred and achieves lasting division.

‘You cannot fight prejudice with prejudice.’ 

The group has been active online since mid-2016.

In December that year it endorsed the complete closure of all Britain’s prisons and detention centres, saying they were ‘inhumane, overcrowded and unsafe’.

The group has also expressed its opposition on Twitter to government initiatives including reform of the benefits system via the introduction of Universal Credit and the licensing of fracking. 

It has attacked everyone from Oxfam (‘big charities are nothing more than colonisers for the 21st century’) to Sir David Attenborough.

The group accused an episode of his 2018 TV series Dynasties, on chimpanzees, of being racist because the BBC naturalist complained that habitat destruction due to overpopulation was threatening the species with extinction.

‘Human activities can obviously compete with wildlife,’ the anomymous BLM Tweeter opined. ‘But ‘too many people’ always has a silent ‘black’.’

He began the debate by urging his followers to remove him on Twitter if they were from the ‘far right or far left’. 

‘Morning peeps, polite request, if you’re far right or far left do me and yourselves a favour and unfollow me, it’ll be good for yours and our mental health as I couldn’t give 2 hoots how many followers I have I won’t be offended.’ 

One Twitter user replied: ‘If you are central Matt why wear a badge promoting a far left ideology?’ 

The 51-year-old wrote back: ‘That’s a good point and one which I’ve made to my boss already.’ 

Another said: ‘Maybe you should review your BLM badge wearing’, to which he responded: ‘I am reviewing’.

There has been plenty of reaction and debate following Le Tissier’s tweet, with another user saying he ‘hated this badging of the left and right’. 

And one replied telling him ‘that BLM badge is a bit dodgy’.

There has been plenty of reaction and debate following Le Tissier’s tweet, with another user saying he ‘hated this badging of the left and right’. 

And one replied telling him ‘that BLM badge is a bit dodgy’.

Former Wolves, Stoke City, QPR, Bolton and Bradford City professional footballer Karl Henry also raised concerns about the aims of BLM UK. 

He tweeted yesterday: ‘I think the majority of the UK have now had enough of that organisation.       

‘A new inclusive and politically-neutral anti-racism movement to follow and get behind is much needed. Black people’s lives matter!

‘The divisive #BlackLivesMatter organisation, however, DOES NOT.’

Black Lives Matter encourage the slogan #DefundThePolice amid outcry over alleged violence by police towards black people, saying they ‘call for an end to the systemic racism that allows this culture of corruption to go unchecked and our lives to be taken’.

In further remarks he took aim at some of the UK group’s far-left policies.   

He added: ‘Let’s just look at Capitalism, which #BlackLivesMatterUK want to abolish. 

‘It does NOT favour white people. It is not the enemy of the black community. 

‘Capitalism allows free enterprise and entrepreneurialism. If other communities can flourish under capitalism, so can we!’ 

Speaking about their views on the police on the Black Lives Matter website, the movement says Floyd’s death was a ‘breaking point’ and ‘a reminder that, for black people, law enforcement doesn’t protect or save our lives. They often threaten and take them’.

They have called for ‘a national defunding of police’, asking for ‘investment in our communities and the resources to ensure Black people not only survive, but thrive’.

But there is a growing chorus of voices who want to know exactly who is behind the group.

Last week they posted a statement on various social media feeds, promising soon to ‘create a website’ that would ‘ease any confusion around which of the many Black Lives Matter organisations and platforms that have emerged is actually us’.

The statement also promised its spending ‘will be made public in the spirit of transparency and accountability in due course’. As to who is behind the organisation, it claimed its leaders were busy dealing with ’emergency legal matters’ and ‘the hostility of far-Right groups’ which represent ‘a genuine threat to our safety’.

Yesterday it seemed to be trying to row back on its police money remarks, tweeting a post at odds with its own published aims.

It said: ‘When we say ‘Defund the police’ we mean Invest in programmes that actually keep us safe like youth services, mental health and social care, education, jobs and housing. Key services to support the most vulnerable before they come into contact with the criminal justice system.’

A Sky Sports said none of the presenters were obliged to wear the badges.

One source familiar with the situation added: ‘It is the individual’s choice whether they wear the badges or not.

‘The channel’s support for Black Lives Matter is for the moral cause of the campaign for racial justice, rather than for any political organisation.’ 

Premier League players fearful of links to Black Lives Matter activists as captains consider making a public statement distancing themselves from the UK wing

ByMatt Hughes For The Daily Mail

Premier League players want to distance themselves from the official UK wing of the Black Lives Matter organisation amid concerns over its ideology and political ambitions.

Sportsmail can reveal that the issue has been discussed by several players, with the group of top-flight captains considering whether to make a public statement on the matter.

The players’ call to endorse the sentiment behind the Black Lives Matter movement — the need for action to ensure greater equality and an expression of solidarity with those who have suffered persecution because of their race — was instrumental in persuading the Premier League to make the campaign such a visible part of Project Restart.

Players want to distance themselves from the official Black Lives Matter organisation

Players want to distance themselves from the official Black Lives Matter organisation

Premier League stars donned 'Black Lives Matter' playing shirts when the top-flight resumed

Premier League stars donned ‘Black Lives Matter’ playing shirts when the top-flight resumed

Every game since the resumption has been prefaced by players and match officials taking a knee in tribute to George Floyd, while the partner of Watford captain Troy Deeney designed a BLM logo which features on the shirts of all 20 Premier League clubs.

While the players remain united in campaigning for equality and committed to maintaining such symbolic gestures for the remainder of the season, some are concerned about being associated with the political activism of Black Lives Matter UK. In the last few days, the official BLM UK Twitter account has caused controversy by calling for the overthrow of capitalism, reductions in police funding and an end to free trade with Israel.

Former Wolves midfielder Karl Henry criticised BLM UK on social media on Tuesday as a divisive organisation, while Sky Sports pundit Matt Le Tissier said he would review his decision to wear a BLM badge in comments that have sparked a debate among players.

Karl Henry criticised BLM UK on social media on Tuesday - calling them a divisive organisation

Karl Henry criticised BLM UK on social media on Tuesday – calling them a divisive organisation

‘I think the majority of the UK have now had enough of that organisation,’ wrote Henry on Twitter. ‘A new inclusive and politically neutral anti-racism movement to follow and get behind is much needed. Black people’s lives matter! The divisive #BlackLivesMatter organisation, however, DOES NOT.’

The Premier League have not provided any funding to BLM UK and chief executive Richard Masters told MPs on Tuesday that his organisation remain apolitical.

Appearing before a select committee of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, Masters attempted to draw a distinction between moral and political causes, although this position was criticised by Sunderland MP Julie Elliott, who accused him of ‘opening a can of worms’.

The Premier League and the FA prohibit participants in the game from making political statements, with Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola fined two years ago by the latter for wearing a ribbon in support of Catalan independence.

Richard Masters told MPs on Tuesday that the Premier League remain apolitical

Richard Masters told MPs on Tuesday that the Premier League remain apolitical

‘I don’t think it sets any particular precedent,’ Masters insisted. ‘I think it’s perfectly possible to support Black Lives Matter without being seen to be supporting any political organisation.

‘We’re happy to support the players. We think it’s the right moment to do it and for the first time I feel that players, managers, Premier League and clubs are on the same page on the issue of discrimination. That feels like a positive step.

‘We’re drawing a clear distinction between a moral cause and a political movement.

‘While there may be some difficulty sometimes in dividing the two, our position is clear. Politics no, moral causes yes — when agreed. We’re living in special times at the moment.’

Advertisement