Manchester City and England forward Raheem Sterling believes it’s time for structural change within British soccer.
Sterling, in an interview with the BBC on Monday, advocated for the need for clubs and the national team to hire more black, Asian and minority ethnic, or BAME, coaches and administrators.
“Give black coaches, not just coaches but people in their respective fields, the right opportunity,” Sterling said, via the BBC. “I feel like that's what's lacking here, it's not just taking the knee, it is about giving people the chance they deserve.
“There's something like 500 players in the Premier League and a third of them are black and we have no representation of us in the hierarchy, no representation of us in the coaching staffs. There's not a lot of faces that we can relate to and have conversations with.”
Sterling, 25, is in his fifth season with Manchester City and his ninth in the Premier League after a four-year stint with Liverpool. He’s made 53 appearances with the England national team since 2014, too, and helped them to a fourth-place finish at the World Cup in 2018.
According to the BBC, the Football Association had 5 percent of its leadership positions and 13 percent of England coaching staff positions filled by people from a BAME background. The goal is to increase that to 11 percent and 20 percent, respectively, by next year.
Only five of the 91 managers in the Premier League and English Football League are currently considered to be from a BAME background, according to the Independent.
"When there's someone from a black background, I can go to in the FA with a problem I have within the club, that will be when I know change is happening and not just in my field, also in Parliament," Sterling said, via the BBC.
"Once we do see those numbers shifting, that's when I'll be happy and the people will be happy."
Sterling’s comments come in the wake of George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis police custody late last month, which has sparked both massive rallies and protests around the world and a larger conversation about race and racism. Countless athletes and prominent figures in the sports world have spoken out since his death, too.
While he’s happy about those protests and the progress that’s been made so far, Sterling knows there is more that has to be done.
"The protest is a great starting point, to make your voice be heard," Sterling said, via the BBC.
"But just protesting alone is not going to make a change in this country. It’s how we move on from here. It’s about highlighting things, the society that needs changing, and then acting upon it. We’ve done a lot of talking, and it’s time now to act.”
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