Sunderland issue strong statement urging minority booing players taking the knee to reconsider
Sunderland have stressed their commitment to the fight against all forms of discrimination and said they are 'disappointed' that a small minority of supporters have booed players taking a knee before games.
In a statement released on Thursday afternoon the club have urged 'those who have booed to reflect on the impact this has on players, staff and their fellow supporters'.
The club have also shown their support to those who have responded to the booing with applause.
Sunderland have encouraged their playing squad to make their own decision on whether or not to take a knee before games, with many opting not too.
Some have continued to do so, along with the majority of opposition players.
The club have said their message is 'loud and clear that all forms of discrimination are completely unacceptable'.
The statement said: "Sunderland AFC’s players, staff and supporters’ groups stand together in the fight against racism and all other forms of discrimination.
"As a collective, we are disappointed that a small minority of supporters have chosen to boo players that have taken the knee ahead of kick-off at the Stadium of Light and away from home.
"We will continue to empower each individual to make their own decisions and support them wholeheartedly in any action they take to help eradicite all forms of discrimination from our society, including taking, or not taking, the knee.
"We urge those who have booed to reflect on the impact this has on players, staff and their fellow supporters and we commend those who, upon hearing the booing, have reacted positively to show that our players are not alone in their fight against discrimination.
"Our message is loud and clear that all forms of discrimination are completely unacceptable and have no place within our football club or within our community.
"Together, we are Sunderland.
"We ask you to support our team, support our players and support each other in our efforts to end racism and discrimination."
Lee Johnson said this afternoon that his playing squad have been discussing the issue over the summer, and that those conversations have continued as more new players arrive.
He said the club supported their players in whatever decision they ultimately make.