Since the killing of George Floyd on the 25th May 2020. The Black Lives Matter campaign has exploded. The death of George signalled a number of protests across America and around the world, to finally call for the end of racial injustice.
This was not the first or will it be the last incident where a life has been lost because of the colour of ones skin. However, it was a massive point in time where many began to realise that action must be taken to change things for the better.
This has come in a number of ways with celebrities using their platforms to create awareness, companies and businesses showing support and solidarity to the movement. It has even caused some organisations to look within themselves and question whether they have enough diversity in the workforce.
One industry it has particularly inspired is the sports one. It was Colin Kaepernick, who was the first major sportsman to take the knee, whilst the national anthem before an NFL game was playing.
He said at a post match interview that; “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses Black people and people of color. To me, this is bigger than football and it would be selfish on my part to look the other way. There are bodies in the street and people getting paid leave and getting away with murder.”
Kaepernick received a lot of backlash from the public and the NFL, but he knew this issue was worth fighting for. He inspired other professional athletes to replicate his silent protests during the national anthem and it has now become a symbol for the fight to equality.
It was after the lockdown eased and football restarted that we began to see players across Europe spreading the message “Black Lives Matter”. Many players were aware that their popularity was a perfect way to promote this message. With all footballers across the Premier League taking a knee at the start of each game to show their support. This is something that will continue in the Community Shield games at the weekend.
It is simple gestures like this that starts to educate all fans about the importance of equality. With racist incidents still within football; seeing people they look up to making a stand, might just cause a change in the attitudes some have against people of colour.
Advertising in both Sky Sports and BT have ensured that “Black Lives Matter” is a key feature on their screens, but also having conversations on their shows about this issue. It was the Liverpool legend Graeme Souness who admitted to Sky Sports that it was the first time he was “questioning” himself in regards to the racism he witnessed and how he dealt with it.
He said; “Only twice in my life, in the football world, and that’s the world I know, was I confronted with racist remarks.
“And I didn’t challenge them, and I’m angry with myself now, I brushed it off at the time.
“It wasn’t in the dressing room, it was made by directors at football clubs and I didn’t challenge them at that time.”
It is stories like this that has shown how important the Black Lives Matter campaign has been in educating people on not only racism, but how we should stop it going forward.
Footballers across Europe, particularly in the Premier league, have done an excellent job in bringing light to the issue of racial injustices and police brutality. I just hope the likes of the FA, UEFA and FIFA ensure that this message is not lost and take this campaign as a catalyst to deal with racist incidents better within football.
It has been incidents from the racism aimed at Black English players whilst they competed against Bulgaria. To the “joke” racist image towards fellow Manchester City teammate Benjamin Mendy, that Bernardo Silva, got a minimal punishment for, that must change.
Racism is racism and for me football needs to take the next step in coming down hard on these incidents.