Raheem Sterling says racism is ‘the only disease right now’ in support of Black Lives Matter

Manchester City forward admitted his comments were ‘a bit cheesy’ amid the coronavirus pandemic but stressed the importance of fighting for racial equality in a battle that has been ongoing ‘for years and years’

Jack de Menezes
Sports News Correspondent
Monday 08 June 2020 08:12 BST
Raheem Sterling says racism is 'the only disease in the world right now'

Raheem Sterling has said that the battle for racial equality is the most important issue facing the world after claiming racism is “the only disease right now”.

The Manchester City and England forward added his voice to the growing wave of support for the Black Lives Matter movement, which has risen to prominence again following the killing of unarmed African American George Floyd in the United States. Floyd died while in police custody in Minnesota, with a video showing policeman Derek Chauvin forcing his knee into Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes while in handcuffs despite repeated complaints that he could not breath. Four police officers all involved in the arrest have been charged in response to the incident.

With the coronavirus pandemic still very much an issue for both the US and the United Kingdom, Sterling admitted that his comments sounded “a bit cheesy”, but the 25-year-old wanted to stress how important the issue of racial injustice is across the globe in a battle that has been ongoing for “years and years”.

Speaking to Emily Maitlis on BBC Newsnight in an interview that will be broadcast on Monday evening, Sterling said: "I know this might sound a little bit cheesy but the only disease right now is the racism that we are fighting.

"This is the most important thing at this moment in time because this is something that is happening for years and years. Just like the pandemic, we want to find a solution to stop it.

"At the same time, this is what all these protesters are doing. They are trying to find a solution and a way to stop the injustice they are seeing, and they are fighting for their cause.

"As long as they are doing it peacefully and safely and not hurting anybody and not breaking into any stores, they continue to protest in this peaceful way."

Sterling has previously challenged the media's perception of black players and taken a lead in calling out racism in both the domestic and international game.

Last year he counselled fellow professionals against walking off the pitch in the event of racial abuse, and has also called for the establishing of a player-led anti-racism task-force.

But Sterling believes it is now time for the talking to develop into real change in order to go further in banishing the scourge of racism from sport and wider society for good.

Sterling added: "There's only so much communities and other backgrounds can take - especially black people.

"It's been going on for hundreds of years and people are tired and people are ready for change.

"This is something that needs more than just talking. We need to actually implement change and highlight the places that do need changes.

"But this is something that I myself will continue to do, and spark these debates and get people in my industry looking at themselves and thinking what they can do to give people an equal chance in this country."

Meanwhile, heavyweight world champion Anthony Joshua has launched an angry defence against his critics after being accused of being a racist following his attendance at a Black Lives Matter protest in Watford.

The 30-year-old boxer, who holds the IBF, WBA and WBO heavyweight world championships, attended the peaceful protest on Saturday where he read out a speech on a microphone to the thousands in attendance.

The Watford-born fighter read out a speech that he confirmed at the time was on behalf of someone else who could not attend at the weekend, but a video of the clip was edited to cut-out his clarification, before being shared on social media making it look as though the comments to avoid businesses owned by white people were his own thoughts.

In the video, Joshua is heard to be said: “Show them where it hurts.

“Abstain from spending your money in their shops and economies, and invest in black-owned businesses.”

The video quickly went viral and led to Joshua receiving accusations of being a racist on social media, which prompted a stern response on Sunday night to tell them to “go f*** themselves”.

In a statement posted on Twitter, Joshua said: “If you think I'm a racist, go f*** yourself!

“If you watch the full video, the speech was passed around for someone to read and I took the lead.

“I personally spoke from the heart about the Watford community, ideas of us personally investing seven figures to create unity and opportunities and adding change to the African/Caribbean community.

“Shops aren't the issue here. Before you talk s***, you better boycott racism.”

Additional reporting by PA

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