UK Sports Stars Ditch Black Lives Matter as Group's Political Agenda Emerges
Major Premier League figures begin to distance themselves from 'divisive organization'
Major sports stars in the UK have begun to ditch Black Lives Matter as the far-left organization's "divisive" political agenda has started to emerge.
Leading broadcaster Sky Sports has claimed it allowed their commentators to decide whether to wear Black Lives Matter badges before going on air, as top personalities begin to distance themselves from the leftist group.
Pundits Patrice Evra and Jamie Redknapp were the first to reportedly dump their badges, with others following suit claiming they only wore theirs because they were "asked to" by the broadcaster.
During Sky's coverage of Brighton and Hove Albion v Manchester United in the Premier League on Tuesday night, Redknapp and Evra, along with commentator Gary Neville, were not wearing the badges.
It comes following moves by the Premier League to distance itself from the movement after a series of radical political statements from the UK wing of BLM.
Players in Tuesday's match still "took the knee" before kick-off and had "Black Lives Matter" on their shirts, despite the revelations, however.
Since the league resumed on June 17, Sky Sports presenters have worn the badges with the organization's logo, with all 20 clubs agreed to emblazon "Black Lives Matter" on their shirts for all matches after taking the far-left political group's name purely at face value.
Players and officials have also "taken the knee" before matches, a symbol adopted by US athletes to protest against President Donald Trump and now used in BLM protests across the world.
However, concerns have been raised after a series of tweets by BLM which criticized Israel and called on the British government to "defund the police."
Meanwhile, Sky Sports appeared to still be backing the movement, carrying the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter before ad breaks.
The Premier League said it recognized "the importance of the message that black lives matter" - without referring to the organization's name in upper case.
However, it made clear that it "does not endorse any political organization or movement, nor support any group that calls for violence or condones illegal activity."
But chiefs are not expected to ditch the BLM badge on shirts, having drawn a distinction between BLM's cause and the group itself.
Sky rival, BT Sport also said it will let pundits decide whether to wear the badge.
The BBC's position on the matter is not yet clear.
But according to The Daily Mail, 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 maintaining such symbolic gestures for the rest of the season, some are concerned about being associated with the political activism of BLM.
The cause has been widely supported across football and the wider sporting world by TV and media stars, but that all changed on Sunday when BLM 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."
As Israel moves forward with the annexation of the West Bank, and mainstream British politics is gagged of the right to critique Zionism, and Israel’s settler colonial pursuits, we loudly and clearly stand beside our Palestinian comrades.— #BlackLivesMatterUK (@ukblm) June 28, 2020
The following day left-wing Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, who has "taken the knee" alongside parliamentary colleagues, called it a "shame" that the sentiment behind the BLM protests was getting "tangled up with these organizational issues" and said calls to defund the police were "nonsense."
BLM UK responded by tweeting that "as a public prosecutor, Sir Keir Starmer was a cop in an expensive suit."
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'. https://t.co/7wJhSzywZR— #BlackLivesMatterUK (@ukblm) June 29, 2020
The expansion of police and prison power has not made our communities safer.— #BlackLivesMatterUK (@ukblm) June 29, 2020
We can no longer allow governments from any party to police or imprison away social problems. Neither can we allow former Prosecutors to tell us what our demands should be.
But it also prompted a row between Lawrence Fox and Gary Lineker after the actor asked the BBC Match of the Day presenter if he agreed with BLM's messages on Palestine - forcing Lineker to distance himself from the group.
Comedy writer Lee Kern, co-writer of Who Is America?, has also hit out at BLM for its "anti-Semitic conspiracies."
Sky Sports' ditching of the BLM badges comes after another pundit, Matt Le Tissier, said he only wore the badge after being asked to do so by bosses at the broadcaster.
Le Tissier, 51, criticized the group's "far-left ideology" and said he "could not support" Black Lives Matter's anti-police and anti-capitalist aims.
He had, along with fellow Sky pundit Jamie Carragher appeared on air wearing a BLM badge but said he only did so after being asked to.
Upon seeing Sky's top pundits had stopped wearing BLM badges on-air, fans were quick to share their thoughts on Twitter, with one saying: "If only they'd done a little research like us peasants did before jumping in with both feet."
Another wrote: "Maybe research an organisation next time blokes before you support their 'cause'."
While someone else posted: "Slowly people are realising BLM is an anti-Semitic, anarchistic anti white, anti law and order movement, and regretting their foolish support."
Black Lives Matter UK - or @BLMUK on social media - is the British offshoot of its US counterpart, but the group's Marxist leaders, who are largely anonymous, have been accused of using its financial muscle for a range of far-left aims.
The group has been criticized for a lack of transparency with no formal governing structure and having never filed accounts.
The group has said it intends to be "guided by a commitment to dismantle imperialism, capitalism, white supremacy, patriarchy and the state structures that disproportionately harm black people in Britain and around the world."
In a 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."
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."
Black player Karl Henry, formerly of Wolverhampton Wanderers and Queens Park Rangers, also spoke out to brand the group "divisive."
Henry has called for a "new inclusive and politically-neutral anti-racism movement" after savaging the UK group online.
He tweeted: "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."
I think the majority of the UK have now had enough of that organisation.— Karl Henry (@karlhenry08) June 29, 2020
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! https://t.co/ekdjfvw5Dx
Black Lives Matter encourages 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, Henry 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!"
Let’s just look at Capitalism, which #BlackLivesMatterUK want to abolish.— Karl Henry (@karlhenry08) June 29, 2020
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!
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.
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."