Colchester United owner and Chairman Robbie Cowling has issued the following statement:
It was so good to welcome our fans back into our stadium on Saturday for our League Two game against Grimsby and so much about the day was perfect.
- My journey into the stadium felt so much more exciting knowing other fans were making their way there too.
- The amazing efforts of the staff to ensure the stadium was Covid-19 secure were finally tested and because of the brilliant compliance with the code of conduct by the fans who attended, the months of hard work and preparation worked extremely well.
- Junior Tchamadeu at just 16 years and 348 days old became the youngest player to ever start a game for Colchester United and marked his debut with an excellent performance that belied his tender age and his lack of first team experience. Well done Junior and well done Steve and Hayden for being brave enough to start a young player like Junior in such an important game.
- Those in attendance may have been low in numbers but that was not obvious because those that did attend got right behind the team and made plenty of noise.
- Winning the game means we have gained seventeen points from our last nine league games. Considering the financial cut backs we were forced to make this season, I think that’s amazing. Dare I say it’s punching?
However, the game is not being talked about for all of the things I mentioned above but because of the ridiculous actions of a few who decided to boo our players whilst they took the knee before kick- off.
Our club supports the players and their choice to take the knee for a few seconds before every game.
Callum Harriot described the purpose of the gesture perfectly to me explaining that taking the knee dates back to early civil rights movements as a way of silently showing solidarity in support of political inequalities suffered by oppressed communities.
Those that take the knee want to highlight that all lives should be valued and should not be treated inhumanely or inferior to others just because of their race.
It is undeniable that black and other ethnic minority people are still the victims of racism, and the black footballers and staff at Colchester United feel that they are in a position of privilege that has been fought for through the blood and sweat of their ancestors.
A position that in 2020 the average black person is still not afforded.
Those taking the knee, and supporting the taking of the knee, not only shows their willingness to support the drive to eradicate racial oppression but force it to be a talking point even when it’s uncomfortable.
Undeniably, taking the knee is a fundamental catalyst in pushing the conversation and thus the necessary changes forward.
I’m sure the vast majority of Colchester United fans are supportive and want to play their part in showing they back the actions of our players.
Maybe those that booed on Saturday might now understand what this gesture means to our club and will at the very least remain silent during future games whilst the players continue to take the knee before each kick-off.
Alternatively, they should just stay away from our club because anyone that still wants to boo now that I have explained the purpose and importance of the taking of the knee is not welcome at our club.
I will be happy to refund anyone for the remaining value of their season permit if that is the reason they feel they can no longer attend our games.
It would be very disappointing if anyone does decide to boo again. Therefore, going forward I would like to make the actions of those fans who do boo the taking of the knee completely irrelevant.
For every game where the players choose to take the knee, I would like all of our fans to join me in applauding this gesture to ensure our players know we fully support them.