Bolton’s Antoni Sarcevic hits back at angry fans as he comes back with a strong message following an ‘incident’ which happened at the weekend.
The 29 year old midfielder has asked supporters to respect the players’ choice when it comes to them, their staff members and the officials taking the knee before games for the 2021/22 season.
The Trotters captain heard a small number of those who attended the game choosing to jeer the anti-racism gesture before kick-off in Saturday’s pre-season friendly against Blackburn Rovers.
— Marc Iles (@MarcIles) August 3, 2021
Bolton Wanderers chairman Sharon Brittan also had her say, coming out in support of the squad who released a statement on Monday on the matter.
Sarcevic has since confirmed that players will again take the knee for this weekend’s opening League One encounter against Milton Keynes Dons.
Critics of the gesture have claimed that it is overtly political, however Sarcevic believes a multi-cultural dressing room is united behind a positive message.
Speaking to The Bolton News, Sarcevic said: “We heard the boos. I have to be careful with what I say but as captain of this football club and a group of players from all backgrounds in this squad, we are all very tight knit, and I know we are all supporting it. We will continue to take the knee and do the right things to stop what is going on.
“I know it is a minority. Every fan can have opinions and voice them if they want, they pay well-earned money to come and watch football. But I’d say that if people are not in full agreement with this then just bite your tongue, do whatever you have got to do for that seven seconds, and then get back to supporting the team, simple as that.”
Sarcevic states that the call to take a knee is taken by players from each dressing room and conveyed by the match officials before each game.
However some have suggested the strength of the message has been ‘diluted’ by the controversy, lost it’s meaning, but Sarcevic says there is still a strong mood of support for it at the club.
“Before we go out for games the referee will make us aware and several times players in our team have asked me to make sure I tell the ref we need to do it,” he said. “That is simple and it will continue through the season, so I hope a lot of other teams continue to stand by their players and carry on doing it.”
Bolton boss Ian Evatt and his squad have had to contend with a number of Covid-related issues since the squad returned to the training ground at the end of June.
Sarcevic thinks the six new players and two returning loanees have since settled well, leaving an optimistic mood in the camp ready for the new campaign.
“It was exciting when the recruitment was going on and I knew some of the lads who were coming in, and they have all bedded in perfectly,” he said. “It is exactly the same as what we had last season – confidence, happiness and it stems on to the pitch. We cannot wait for Saturday.”
The Bolton statement on the matter earlier this week read: “Bolton Wanderers Football Club will always remain committed to promoting inclusion and supporting diversity.
“We are also proud of our players’ stance in saying that racism and discrimination is not acceptable in both football and wider society.
”Football is a place where people from all backgrounds come together with a common purpose and a common language.
”Whether a player, coach, volunteer or supporter, it has the power to unite people in a way that very few other things can.
”Our actions and our support can send a powerful message across the whole country that football is united in the fight against racism and we can all take a stand.
Bolton Wanderers chairman Sharon Brittan said: “As a town Bolton is strengthened by our diverse community and at Bolton Wanderers Football Club, through our work in the community, we are proud to represent all our residents.
“The players are determined to send out a strong and positive message to show that we are all together in the fight against discrimination of any kind.
“We are One Club, One Community, One Town.”
Meanwhile, footballers in the Premier League and EFL are expected to continue taking the knee as a sign of their “unity against all forms of racism”.
They both said it “wholeheartedly supported” the decision and is expected to continue with it down the players to choose their stance.
As mentioned, Bolton’s Antoni Sarcevic hits back at angry fans with a response issued after the club statement…
@IanEcc01: I don’t condone booing at all but it’s a free country, asking people not to boo is the same as asking people not to clap.
@chrislepkowski: This is good but would be even better if both captains led their teams off the field – until the booing stops. And keep doing so until the idiots stop
@BWFC1982: Another handy thread for the nutters to self-identity so that I can crack on and mute them
@WizzyBill8: When the captain of the club comes out to ask personally to respect their wishes then that is what we need to do, whilst i have never been a fan of the kneeling process, i have never booed or disrespected it, time we put it to bed now and let them carry it out without, disruption
@JarvisanVA: Love it. Never waver against fighting racism
@malcolm_rushton: I never boo but neither do I think the kneeling should go on. It is too divisive and open to different interpretations no matter what the player say. Linking arms is more symbolic.
@rowbottom_ian: It’s OK to not like the notion of taking a knee, but you don’t have to boo it. Personally, I don’t think taking the knee is making much progress anymore, it’s lost momentum. But I won’t boo it!
@Sophthecatsmum: No need to bite my tongue – as long as every player genuinely supports the cause then so do I! Capt Sarce speaks so well!!
@damonbwfc: My Captain. It couldn’t be much clearer for the racists and the bigots and the tinfoil hat freaks who think the club is organising a Marxist revolution. #bwfc
@JDerbyshireBWFC: Reading through the Facebook comments and trying to rationally interact with some of these mouth-breathers, it’s clear the booing won’t stop. They are genuinely terrified and have no idea why other than to shout words like Marxism and Communism without the slightest clue.
@joshwarbi: Love that skip @ASarcevic 😍 people booing shows exactly why it needs to continue. Anyone that cares that much about someone kneeling for 7 seconds is a wrongen 🤯 can’t imagine what it must feel like for some of the lads to hear your own fans boo you for that #bwfc
@FreddieBWFC: Fantastic words from the captain but how embarrassing that he’s even had to make this statement. Some of our fans are just pig-ignorant thickos. Talk about ‘rights’ all you want, there is NOTHING constructive or progressive about booing your own team before the match. #BWFC
@_paulholliday: My captain 💙💙
@BWFC1982: Best thing he’s done since signing #bwfc
@bwfc_joe: Listen to the captain
@CMerrillsBWFC: Well said skip @ASarcevic #bwfc