Raheem Sterling

Week 269 (8 - 14 December 2018)

Regrettably, it appears that racism in British football is not the problem of the past that many believed it was.

During Manchester City’s away match against Chelsea on Saturday, Raheem Sterling was subjected to alleged racist abuse by home fans when collecting the ball from behind the goal.

He laughed it off at the time because, sadly, as he put it, he “expects no better.” But, after the game, Sterling courageously took to social media to channel this negative experience into an opportunity to raise awareness of racism in sport.

In an Instagram post, Sterling reflected on the misrepresentation of black players in the media.

Posting two separate pictures, Sterling highlighted to his 4.2 million followers the differences between how black and white football players are portrayed in the media.  

In his comment, Sterling said, “Look how the newspapers get their message across for the young black player and then for the young white player.

“I think this is unacceptable. Both are innocent and have both not done a thing wrong but just by the way it has been worded this young black kid is looked at in a bad light.

“Which helps fuel racism and aggressive behaviour, so for all the news papers that don’t understand why people are racist in this day and age all I have to say is have a second thought about fair publicity and give all players an equal chance.”

Even an act of kindness, a young player buying his mother a new house, has been twisted to imply the 24-year-old indulges in an extravagant lifestyle. Footballers should be given the right that any other citizen is privy to: the opportunity to enjoy a private life away from the pitch. Sports stars are highlighted as role models for younger generations, but when they are portrayed negatively by the media, they face an uphill battle to positively influence others.

In 2018, we have seen one of England’s most strong-minded young footballers being thrown into an age-old dispute, but sadly he is not alone. A banana skin was thrown at Arsenal striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, and Manchester United legend Rio Ferdinand has since spoken out on problems with racism in football:

“You have got to speak about it, I think if you remain silent you run into the problem.

“Sterling’s got a great platform to do it and rightly so, he’s a man in form playing a big club in a big league but the lads in Division 1, they get the same treatment and where’s their platform, where’s their voice?”

For taking a stand and getting people to address racism in football, Raheem Sterling is JTA Communicator of the Week.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons