Kevin-Prince Boateng’s anti-racism message (Part 1)
Kevin-Prince Boateng has launched a powerful anti-racism message urging footballers to take a stand, believing too many are afraid.
The former Tottenham player walked off in protest after suffering racist abuse during a friendly match for AC Milan in Italy in 2013 and has since been a vocal anti-racism campaigner in sport.
Boateng has renewed his pledge to front the fight against racism after George Floyd, a 46-year-old black American, died after a white policeman knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on May 25, reigniting the explosive issue of police brutality against African Americans.
It sparked nationwide protests in the US and across the world including Britain, Germany, New Zealand, France and Denmark.
In a wide-ranging exclusive interview with Sky Sports News following the protests, Boateng, who has been linked with a move to MLS, says:
- Society must be proactive not reactive
- Some players are scared to speak out
- Racism needs to be taught in schools
- Suggests a ‘George Floyd day’ when players do not play
- Urges more players to walk off if abused
How have you coped with the events of the last few days?
It is a difficult situation. Other than being sad, I am angry. It just hurts always coming back to the same feeling. It’s very difficult for me right now.
How does football handle this issue?
I saw Liverpool kneeling and that is a good start to show that they are with us. In general what is football doing? Not a lot. An advert on television or a banner when the teams walk onto the pitch [is not enough]. It’s already late but it’s never too late, we just have to wake up.
How did you feel when you walked off during a match in 2013?
When I was young I always tried to ignore racism and swallow it. When I talk to people now [who knew me then], they say ‘back in the day you never felt like this, you cried, went home and never said anything’. I tell them [that is] because I was a coward. I wasn’t strong enough and did not believe in what I wanted to do.
I’m not a coward anymore. That was the moment when I was fed up, it was enough. I felt sad, angry, I hated the world. I wanted to show the world I’m not going to let them do that to me anymore. After what I have been through, what I have sacrificed. You won’t judge me because of the colour of my skin.
What kind of things have been shouted at you by football fans?
Monkey [gestures], for every goal you score you get a banana. We’ll put you in a box and send you back to your country. The ‘n word’ has been used a lot of times. [They throw water and say] maybe we can wash off the dirt.
‘We need to teach racism in schools’
That kind of stuff just to hurt you. They are racist, of course, but it [comes from] ignorance, they do not understand. We have to try to break it down to them as simply as possible – that is our work.
We have to educate the kids, that is the biggest issue. Kids are growing up through this and not being educated by their parents or in school.
There is maths, English and history [being taught] in schools, why is there no racism subject? Make the kids understand we are all the same. That’s the next generation, maybe one day everyone will understand.