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‘Opportunity to make a difference’ – Gareth Southgate backs players over Black Lives Matter campaign

With players such as Man City’s Raheem Sterling and Aston Villa’s Tyrone Mings throwing their weight behind the Black Lives Matter movement, England manager, Gareth Southgate, has come out in full support of their stance.

The death of George Floyd in America has sparked a wave of protests across the world, from black people in all walks of life, and it’s clearly an emotive subject for many, including Sterling and Mings.

Far from being seen to distance himself from their protests, Southgate is proud of his players.

“We have (a) group of players who understand they have an opportunity to make a difference – that their voices are heard – but they do that with some responsibility as well,” Southgate said on BBC Radio 5 Live, and cited by BBC Sport.

“If you believe in something strongly enough and have the opportunity to make a difference then that is something you have to grasp […] I think this crosses over all professions really.

“I have always been in a dressing room where a high percentage of the dressing room were black so I didn’t know anything different until I stepped out of that environment. I wasn’t as conscious of it as I have become over the last few years.

“I think yes, we should as a sport talk about opportunities for coaches and managers but there is also administration and many other areas of the game where we employ people in analysis departments and medical departments. We should have representation across all of those areas.”

The issue remains just what effect any protests will have, and how long-lasting it will be.

There have been occasions in the past where black players have tried to walk off the pitch after having received racial abuse, and though Porto’s Moussa Marega eventually did do so, he was visibly restrained by his white team-mates at the time, per CNN.

Clearly, there’s a lot of work still to do with regard to those type of incidents and opportunities given to BAME players and managers, but with the support of Southgate and others in high-profile positions, it’s a long-overdue recognition and potential new starting point for serious discussions to be had.

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