Amid increased visibility on racism across world soccer, Manchester City star Raheem Sterling is taking a stand. A stand on the field.
When asked if he would walk off the pitch in the event he was racially abused during a game, Sterling said he would rather stay on, because he has the power to hit the racists where it hurts the most.
“I wouldn’t personally agree with walking off,” Sterling said. “I would rather go and win the game because that would hurt them even more. They’re trying to get you down, if you do walk off the pitch as a group then that makes them win. If you score a goal to win the match, then that’s even a better feeling which beats them.”
A number of incidents across Europe over the past few months has pushed racism at football matches back to the forefront of the conversation. A number of England internationals reported they were racially abused at the away match against Montenegro during the last international break, while recent incidents at Chelsea and
“My mum taught me how to love myself, how to love my skin color and how to be comfortable in my skin,” Sterling said. “Some people can’t take it but I was always told to love myself and who I am. When I do feel something’s not right I want to speak about it. If more players speak out then the better it will be.”
England international Danny Rose, a teammate of Sterling’s with the England national team, said a few days ago that he “can’t wait to see the back of” professional soccer after being frustrated with the lack of action against racism taken by authorities in Europe. Rose appeared agitated by the prevalence of the abuse and Sterling echoed his comments, saying Rose has dealt with the ugliness of the situation.
“I’ve heard stories of his past,” Sterling said. “I don’t want to go into too much detail – youth teams and stuff like that. I think it’s something he’s come across quite a number of times and it probably is getting a bit much for him. I respect his comments and it’s a shame to hear that from someone like him, not everyone’s the same, not everyone takes it the same way, to hear that it’s not really a nice thing to hear.”
Sterling has blossomed into one of the best attacking providers in Europe during his time at Manchester City, racking up 33 goals and 26 assists across the past two Premier League campaigns. The increased visibility has only brought increased pressure across a number of fronts, but Sterling’s approach seems to be one of silent aggression, using his play on the pitch to fight those who wish to bring him down.