Dear Mark Bullingham,
In your recent message to England supporters, you said:
‘Major tournaments don’t come around often, and when they do it’s an opportunity to unite friends, family and the country.’
We couldn’t agree more!
However, the decision to encourage players to ‘take the knee’ and then to denigrate fans who oppose the gesture, is divisive.
Football brings people together, it unites us, irrespective of race. The England team is a testament to the multi-racial society that we are proud to live in. We support the FA in opposing discrimination of all kinds and celebrate the successes of the Kick it Out campaign, which brings communities of all backgrounds together around a shared passion.
This is why we are asking you to keep controversial political ideology out of football. Some people view ‘taking the knee’ as a stand against racism, others see it as a symbol of the Black Lives Matter movement. It divides opinion, at a time when we should encourage national unity and get behind the team.
Some fans have booed ‘taking the knee’. However, at every game fans roar their support for our black and minority ethnic players. Accusing decent people of racism and bigotry creates resentment and a sense of injustice. Many fans simply want politics kicked out of football.
We urge you to reflect on your role as custodians of the national game and reject controversial symbolic gestures in favour of uniting the country behind our fantastic national team. The Scottish team have chosen a unifying gesture – to stand against racism. We hope the FA chooses to do the same, because we can’t fight for equality on our knees.
Now is the time to stand, together, in unity.
Don’t Divide Us
Don’t Divide Us are a group of people who wish to promote unity and shared values. In our mission statement we said: ‘We will not be divided – by reactionary racists or culture warriors – who refuse to see us as individuals beyond our skin colour.’