As the Black Lives Matter movement continues to dominate the headlines, Manchester City’s Raheem Sterling has cited former England internationals, Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard, when suggesting it’s the same type of player being handed opportunities post-playing career.
Sterling has been a vocal exponent on issues of race in the aftermath of the murder of US citizen, George Floyd, and has suggested that people of colour aren’t given the chance in football management or at the highest level once they’ve hung up their boots.
“This is a time to speak on these subjects, speak on injustice, especially in my field,” said Sterling on BBC’s Newsnight programme and cited by talkSPORT.
“There’s something like 500 players in the Premier League and a third of them are black and we have no representation of us in the hierarchy, no representation of us in the coaching staffs.
“There’s not a lot of faces that we can relate to and have conversations with. With these protests that are going on it’s all well and good just talking, but it’s time that we need to have conversations, to be able to spark debates.
“But at same time, it’s coming together and finding a solution to be able to spark change because we can talk as much as we want about changing and putting people, black people, in these positions that I do feel they should be in.
“I’ll give a perfect one. There’s Steven Gerrard, your Frank Lampards, you have your Sol Campbells and you have your Ashley Coles. All had great careers, all played for England.
“At the same time, they’ve all respectfully done their coaching badges to coach at the highest level and the two that haven’t been given the right opportunities are the two black former players.
“I feel like that’s what’s lacking here, it’s not just taking the knee, it is about giving people the chance they deserve.”
Sterling’s observations aren’t without merit, but whether clubs will change anything in the wake of continuing protests will only be seen in due course.
There have been plenty of incidents in the past within football pertaining to racist behaviour, but when teams have had the chance to walk off of the pitch – by way of example – in solidarity with their black team-mates, they’ve chosen not to do so.
Time will tell as to whether we are now past that point, that black people’s concerns will be taken seriously and senior football positions will be given to the best candidates regardless of their colour.