In the aftermath of George Floyd’s death in the United States, England forward Raheem Sterling has given his support to the anti-racism demonstrations sweeping the country.
Speaking to Emily Maitlis on BBC Newsnight in an interview to be broadcast on Monday night, Sterling said: “I know this may sound a little cheesy but the only epidemic we are battling right now is the racism.
The 25-year-old Manchester City star thus insisted prejudice is “the only epidemic right now” and said he would continue to speak out on the subject in the hope that it would lead to positive change:
“This is the most important thing at this moment in time because this is something that is happening for years and years. Just like the pandemic, we want to find a solution to stop it.
“At the same time, this is what all these protesters are doing. They are trying to find a solution and a way to stop the injustice they are seeing, and they are fighting for their cause.
“As long as they are doing it peacefully and safely and not hurting anybody and not breaking into any stores, they continue to protest in this peaceful way.”
Even before, Sterling always challenged the perception of black players by the British media and took the lead in calling for racism in both domestic and international games.
Last year, in the event of racial abuse, he counselled fellow professionals against walking off the pitch and also called for a player-led anti-racism task force to be set up.
Yet Sterling believes it is now time for the dialogue to grow into concrete reform and go further in banishing the stigma of bigotry from sport and broader society for good:
“There’s only so much communities and other backgrounds can take – especially black people.
“It’s been going on for hundreds of years and people are tired and people are ready for change.
“This is something that needs more than just talking. We need to actually implement change and highlight the places that do need changes.
“But this is something that I myself will continue to do, and spark these debates and get people in my industry looking at themselves and thinking what they can do to give people an equal chance in this country.”