A slew of racist incidents have hit our beautiful game recently. I wish I could say it’s new but racism has been like a massive tumor which refuses to go away in world football. Black players have been the main victims of the game’s disgusting group of fans who believe insulting players due to their skin color is acceptable in stadiums.
See also: The Common Goal Initiative
Raheem Sterling, Moise Kean, Blaise Matuidi, Danny Rose, Serginho – these are but a few names who have made headlines recently due to incidents involving racism in the game.
Sterling and Kean have defied racist fans on the pitch by scoring and winning their respective games and rightfully celebrating in a way which would show opposing fans that their skin color does not make them weaker. That came with mixed reactions.
Raheem Sterling’s celebration against Montenegro was lauded by his team captain and mates, with Harry Kane saying he would have no problem asking the team to leave the pitch should this happen again.
Moise Kean’s Juventus teammate Leonardo Bonucci, an influential figure in Italian football, offered a lukewarm, if not cold, statement of support to his Italian teammate Kean, implying in his post-match comments that Kean was partially responsible for the racist chants.
This fortunately led to a world-wide condemnation, with famous players expressing their shock at Bonucci’s comment. The Italian defender clarified later on that he was in the wrong and his comments were misinterpreted. The Italian Football Federation’s reaction was also not sufficient, confirming that racism is not treated as seriously in Italian football.
The Premier League, on the other hand, has been making efforts to educate fans coming to games about this scourge.
This recent string of sad incidents has put Raheem Sterling further in the limelight.
Ever since Guardiola joined Manchester City, Sterling has grown from a great English prospect to actually being one of the best players in the world. He has 15 goals and 9 assists in the Premier League this season and another 3 goals in the Champions League. His form has been blistering.
If his quality as a footballer made sure he was already turning heads, his reaction to being targeted by racist fans has ensured the world’s attention has been laser focused on the Englishman. Sterling will be the first to admit all this attention is unwanted as he did in an interview.
However, he should be commended for his leadership when it comes to fighting against racism. He has not hidden or brushed aside this issue but embraced it and is actively trying to raise awareness.
On top of that and in a unrelated anecdote, the ManCity player offered 500 tickets to his old school’s students for this weekends FA Cup semi-final game. A fine gesture by the man.
It’s an incredible gesture, nice. I think these kind of gestures make a better society for everybody. – Pep Guardiola, Manchester City Coach
All this to say: Raheem Sterling is the man of the hour right now, both on and off the pitch.
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