Tory MP Brendan Clarke-Smith has compared ‘taking the knee’ to a Nazi salute, after England footballers knelt in support of Black Lives matter.
Players were booed by crowds ahead of their match against Romania on Monday (7 June) night after performing the anti-racism gesture.
However, England manager Gareth Southgate has insisted that players will continue to take the knee throughout the Euro 2020 tournament, despite disapproval from some politicians and members of the public.
Who is Brendan Clarke-Smith?
Mr Clarke-Smith is a Concervative MP who represents Bassetlaw, in Nottinghamshire, which has previously been held by Labour since the 1930s.
The Nottingham-born MP, 40, is a former teacher and was elected as Member of Parliament for Bassetlaw in the 2019 general election.
What did he say?
The Tory MP compared the ‘taking the knee’ gesture to footballers performing the Nazi salute during a 1939 match against Germany in Berlin in a lenghty Facebook post last night.
He said that these players did not want to give the Nazi salute but were forced to, and it has been “a great source of shame for many of those involved” ever since.
In the post, he wrote: “Following the 1936 Berlin Olympics being used as a propaganda exercise and under a great deal of pressure from both the FA and Britain’s ambassador at the time, the players were encouraged to join the hosts in making the Nazi salute prior to the match.
“Reluctantly, they agreed and for many years since it has been a great source of shame for many of those involved, including the Football Association…
“The point here is that regardless of the original intention, the mixing of politics and football had disastrous consequences…”
The MP also criticised the Black Lives Matter movement, claiming it is “far more than simply an organisation fighting against racism.”
Mr Clarke-Smith went on to say the broad movement is one with “quite sinister motives”, including “crushing capitalism, defunding the police, destroying the nuclear family and attacking Israel.”
While he was careful to say he does not believe that England’s football players are communists, he suggests that the anti-racism movement is and that it is now “inextricably linked” with English football.
Calls for Tory party to take action
The MP’s comments have been condemned by the director of the Antisemitism Policy Trust, Danny Stone, who said the comparison was “ill-considered and offensive”,
Mr Stone has called on the Conservative party to take action against him.
In a tweet, he wrote: “This is an ill-considered and offensive comparison, which taken together with the additional comments demonstrate an urgent requirement for education.
“I hope the party will take action.”
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