Earlier this week Raheem Sterling gave his views on the Black Lives Matter movement on BBC’s Newsnight, and went on the record to talk about the injustice currently happening in the US and the UK.
Unfortunately, not everybody wanted to listen to what Sterling had to say, with some taking to social media to discredit his view. The main criticism was that footballers earn such incredible amounts to the point where they’re completely detached from the issues the working-class BAME population face in this country.
Nope, we are fighting the disease of anarchy and looting. Raheem Sterling you simply retreat to his million-pound mansion and just shut up if doesn’t have anything smart to say.
— JethroBoateng (@JethroBoateng) June 8, 2020
I suspect the entire population of Africa would be willing to swap places with Mr Sterling and his horribly oppressed, multi-millionaire colleagues.
— farra521 (@farra521) June 10, 2020
I agree with You John, but it’s rich coming from a multi millionaire player like sterling to say this when I could say “when in get paid 250k per week I’ll know something has changed”
— James (@JamesFoley15) June 9, 2020
Lewis Hamilton, Raheem Sterling, Anthony Joshua and all the other multi millionaires calling for equality and justice. Can you hear us laughing?
— Egbert Nosh (@NoshEgbert) June 8, 2020
It’s often a fair criticism to say that the upper-classes don’t quite have the same understanding of some of the daily struggles that many protestors go through, but footballers are often uniquely qualified to talk about social injustices.
Take Sterling as an example, this is a young man who wasn’t born into money, Sterling’s upbringing was unfortunately as difficult as any child could ask for with his dad’s life being unfortunately cut short, and his Mum having to work extremely hard to get a degree while also caring for her children, with the Man City winger even recalling instances where he’d have to get up at 5am to help his mother clean hotel toilets in order to provide some extra income for the household.
Yes, the rich and famous are often out of touch with reality, but a lot of footballers come from working-class backgrounds, spending a lot of their lives without the fame, influence and money that being a professional athlete brings.
It’s not a case of ‘stop getting involved and go back to your mansion’, it’s a case of these being people who have experienced hardship in their younger years, who through hard work and determination have excelled to the top of their field and developed a platform that can be used to spread positive messages about issues such as racism.
The fact of the matter is that footballers and other sports stars are probably more qualified to speak on these matters than the majority of Oxbridge-educated politicians who were born with silver spoons in their mouths.
When someone like Sterling makes a stand, it isn’t the modern-day multi-millionaire who drives a sports car you should see, it’s a hardened 25-year-old whose talent and ability has earnt him the platform to be heard by millions, despite having to go through many of the struggles that a lot of BAME individuals in this country have to suffer.
Many professional sports stars grow up without money, power or influence, and then they suddenly find themselves with lots of it by their mid-20s, and there aren’t many occupations that allow that sort of social mobility.