Football Lads Alliance invites Diane Abbott to meeting after 'racist' criticism

Diane Abbott is one of a number of people to have criticised the FLA

Thousands gathered for the march on Saturday

Thursday, October 12, 2017

A new coalition of football fans which claims to be fighting terrorism has invited Diane Abbott to a meeting, after she backed claims that the group was encouraging racism.

The Football Lads Alliance, which is promoted by former English Defence League leader Tommy Robinson, held a march in London on Saturday which, the group claims, attracted 40,000 people.

The event purported to be a stand against terrorism and extremism. But, prior to the march, Stand Up to Racism - which provided its own counter-demonstration - issued a release expressing concern that the moment "will attract far-right and racist organisations". Abbott was one of a number of politicians who signed the document.

In a statement celebrating the success of Saturday's march, the FLA said it "would like to invite Diane Abbott to come and meet with the founder so that she can find out first hand for herself, what they care about, rather than prejudging them, and trying to pigeon hole the people that follow them from all walks of life."

The statement also hit out at the media for allegedly misreporting the event, claiming that Robinson is "in no way to connected with the FLA" - even though he has promoted the group both before and since the march, and was present throughout Saturday's demonstration.

The FLA maintains there were no arrests at the event, adding that police praised the group for their behaviour.

However a number of reports suggest chairs were thrown as marchers clashed with anti-fascist counter-demonstrators, and police were also greeted with chants of "scum."