Tory MP compares footballers ‘taking the knee’ to Nazi salutes
Noa Hoffman June 7. 2021
A Conservative MP has compared English footballers ‘taking the knee’ in support of Black Lives Matter to players saluting Hitler during a 1938 match in Nazi Germany.
The comments come after England manager Gareth Southgate insisted players will be permitted to take the knee throughout the Euros, despite disapproval from some politicians and members of the public.
In a lengthy post on his public Facebook page, MP for Bassetlaw, Brendan Clarke-Smith, argued that by performing the symbolic gesture, England players – even if unintentionally – are endorsing a political ideology akin to Soviet Union communism.
He then compared sports stars taking the knee today to British footballers being pressured to make Nazi salutes during a game in Germany in 1938.
Mr Clarke-Smith said: “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…”
In his post, Mr Clarke-Smith also described Black Lives Matter as a movement with “quite sinister motives”, including “crushing capitalism, defunding the police, destroying the nuclear family and attacking Israel.”
Mr Clarke-Smith told the JC: “The main point I’m trying to make is that we should be keeping politics and football separate.
“What happened in Berlin was a shameful part of football’s history and for me fascism and Marxism are two sides of the same coin. Both movements have a history of antisemitism and I think it’s important to challenge this at every opportunity (something I have done throughout my time in Parliament, including in my maiden speech).
“Whilst I have no doubt that the players have honourable intentions, I don’t think they fully appreciate that the political element of Black Lives Matter is inextricably linked to the other part and this is what is now causing conflict.
“We need to learn from history and find something that we can all unite together under and support, rather than divisive political symbolism.”
Commenting on the comparison, Danny Stone, Director of the Antisemitism Policy Trust, tweeted: “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.”