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In an exclusive interview with Sky Sports, Raheem Sterling explains how football needs to change, to stop racism
In an exclusive interview with Sky Sports, Raheem Sterling explains how football needs to change, to stop racism
Raheem Sterling is a key figure in one of the most exhilarating title races ever. He’s one of the top performers in the Premier League this season, too. And, at the same time – and most importantly – he has renewed his efforts to tackle racism in football.
Meeting him at Manchester City’s training ground, perhaps surprisingly, he is laid back at the prospect of his team being four games away from retaining their Premier League title, unfazed by the pressures of Wednesday’s crucial trip to rivals Manchester United.
Sterling is really enjoying his football right now – “everything is falling into place really well,” he tells me. But he also knows that he is a powerful voice in the fight against racism.
Sterling has backed a manifesto, calling for change in how football’s authorities deal with racism and discrimination. This is not someone who wants to be seen as a spokesman or a figurehead – but a young man who is determined to make the most of his opportunity to make a difference. And he wants to see action.
Raheem Sterling told Geoff Shreeves harsher action is needed to stop racism in football
“It’s not any disrespect to Kick It Out but the campaigns, with the t-shirts and stuff, I feel it shows people what you’re trying to say but what is actually being put in place? We need to help people like Kick It Out push it a bit more,” the 24-year-old says.
“The other day the Premier League suggested to post this blackout thing. Again, it was just like ‘Ok, it goes on social media. Then people see it. But what does that do? What does that actually do? What is the outcome of that?’
“Is it a campaign for three days and it blows over or are we going to do something that says, ‘this is what we’re doing and from now on. This is how it’s going to go’.
“Is it a campaign for three days and it blows over or are we going to do something that says, ‘this is what we’re doing and from now on, this is how it’s going to go’.”
Raheem Sterling on how to tackle racism
“That’s what we, every player who has been in this situation, would like. I don’t think these social media posts, these t-shirts are doing anything. It’s not going to change anything.
“It needs to be at first within football – because that’s where I am and I can’t say about in everyday walks of life – to help people in our environment. And for people that have been suffering these things to have something that they know when they go on the football field that no one will dare to even chat one word at them. That’s what I’m aiming for.”
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Sterling accepts it is not always easy for black players to speak out but says he is keen to shine a light on the problems he and others have suffered in the game – and has called on the authorities to introduce severe punishments for anyone guilty of racism in football.
“No one really says anything. No one expresses their feelings,” says Sterling. “And I think that’s wrong.
“But, at the same time, no one really wants any backlash or if any of it went wrong. But when I wanted to say something it was purely just to get people on the outside to understand what it’s really like for some of these players.
“I probably had it lightly because I haven’t had that many experiences growing up. It was more, as I keep explaining, when I came up north.
“But speaking to players like Fabian [Delph], growing up in Leeds, Bradford, and then telling me about some of their experiences, it’s crazy to know some of this stuff happens here to 15, 16-year-old kids.
“We have an opportunity and a chance to make something that’s not just now but that, in 10 years’ time, players know when they get on a football field that stuff like that can’t happen.
“That’s what we need to put in place. Something that makes people think more than twice.”
1:53 We take a look at some of Raheem Sterling’s best Premier League goals this season, which has helped earn him a PFA player of the year nomination We take a look at some of Raheem Sterling’s best Premier League goals this season, which has helped earn him a PFA player of the year nomination
When it comes to talking about football and his performances on the pitch, Sterling is all smiles. And why wouldn’t he be? He has matched his career-best season goal tally and been nominated for PFA Player of the Year, after helping Manchester City win the Carabao Cup, reach the final of the FA Cup and battle for the Premier League title with Liverpool.
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Given he was 23 at the start of this season, Sterling also qualifies for the Young PFA Player of the Year award, which he’s also been nominated for. He finds that strange – “I feel a bit older than that!” – but he won’t be eligible next year. He is now making the transition into senior pro and has become a key figure for Manchester City.



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