16.10.2020 17:01 h

Czech fans slam national team for BLM tribute

Czech football fans on Friday criticised the national team for having taken the knee ahead of its game in Scotland in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.

The BLM movement, which the European Parliament endorsed in June, says black lives have been valued far less than the lives of others.

The Czech Republic has repeatedly come under fire from international institutions for subjecting its sizeable Roma minority to discrimination and segregation.

"What a circus. You clowns," tweeted fan Pavel Sibrina, while another, Petr Jirat, wrote on Facebook: "It's an incredible shame and boot-licking to kneel in support of a racist, hateful movement such as the BLM in its current form."

The Scots, the Czechs and the referees took the knee ahead of Wednesday's Nations League game at Hampden Park, which Scotland won 1-0.

Common in western Europe, but rare east of the former Iron Curtain, the gesture is a symbol of support for the movement behind the mass protests that erupted across the United States after George Floyd, an unarmed African American man, was killed in police custody in May.

In June, Czech President Milos Zeman described the BLM slogan as racist, and compared its leadership to the ever-watchful eyes of "Big Brother" keeping tabs on people's behaviour.

Czech far-right deputy parliament speaker Tomio Okamura also took to Facebook to criticise the national team's BLM tribute.

"Footballers from the Czech national team took the symbolic knee to hail the Black Lives Matter racists. Shame on you!" said the Tokyo-born politician whose SPD party has 19 seats in the 200-member parliament.

Okamura is one of many Czech politicians who were propelled to parliament on a pledge not to allow refugees into the country during Europe's recent migrant crisis.