Raheem Sterling called for a greater number of BAME background coaches to be hired in English football in the aftermath of protests around the world from Black Lives Matter.
“I always refer back to football, the coaching staff you see around football clubs,” Sterling explained to BBC Newsnight presenter Emily Maitlis.
Sterling, 25, spoke at length about racism in sports and in UK society in general-highlighting the lack of representation of Black people in senior football positions.
When requested to recommend a change that could send out the clearest message, Sterling said black coaches don’t have the same opportunities and this should henceforth be rectified.
Asked to give examples, he used former England international teammates Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard and Ashley Cole to illustrate his point.
Gerrard and Lampard, with Lampard now in charge of Chelsea, were given management roles at Rangers and Derby, respectively. Previously, Campbell had written about his lack of prospects in top jobs and currently manages Southend United, though Cole still has a coaching role to play:
“You see Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard and then you have your Sol Campbells and Ashley Coles. All had great careers and all played for England, they’ve all respectfully done their coaching badges to work at the highest level.
“The two that haven’t been given the right opportunities are the two black former players.”
The management positions are not the only one reflecting the bias. Within the players too, he said, there may be discrimination:
“There’s something like 500 players in the Premier League and a third of them are black. We have no representation of us in the hierarchy, no representation in coaching staff. There’s not a lot of faces that we can relate to and have conversations with.
“I do think that with these protests going on, it’s all well and good just talking but it’s time that we have conversations to spark debates. But not just debates, because we’ve done a lot of talking, but to actually start implementing change.”
In reaction to American George Floyd ‘s death, the Manchester City star, who himself has been the subject of racial violence on many occasions during his career, defended the protests in the UK by demonstrators in the midst of ongoing unrest.
“It’s [the protests] a great starting point, to start protesting and get your voice heard,” he said. “But at the same time, people in my position – which I am lucky to be in – we have to speak on these subjects and injustice, especially in my field.”