MANCHESTER, England (Reuters) – Manchester City’s England soccer international Raheem Sterling has backed anti-racism protests in Britain after the death of unarmed black man George Floyd in police custody in Minneapolis.
“The only disease right now is the racism that we are fighting,” he told the BBC in an interview to be broadcast on Monday. “Just like the (new coronavirus) 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,” he added.
“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.”
Thousands of people have taken part in Black Lives Matter protests held in London and other British cities following Floyd’s death on May 25.
It has sparked demonstrations around the world over police treatment of ethnic minorities. A white police officer detaining Floyd knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes.
Asked whether speaking out makes his job as a footballer more difficult, Sterling, 25, said: “First and foremost, I don’t really think about my job when things like this happen. I think about what is right.
“And at this moment in time, there’s only so much people can take. 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.
“We need to actually implement change and highlight the places that do need changes,” said the former Liverpool striker.
“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.
“Hopefully other industries can do that, and everyday society and the system as well.”
(Reporting by Simon Evans; Editing by Ken Ferris)