Audio of this story
Kevin-Prince Boateng has issued a rallying call to footballers to stand up more against racism and claims too many of the sports’ top stars are afraid to speak up about the issue.
The Germany-born Ghana international has a reputation for his strong stance against racism and famously walked off while at AC Milan in 2013 during a friendly game after being racially abused. He has renewed his pledge in the fight against racism after a black man, George Floyd died at the hands of white policemen in America.
Boateng told SkySports that more players need to walk off the pitch to drum home the anti-racism message more but feels some of them are afraid to speak up. He also thinks racism must be taught in schools and wants a George Floyd Day when players do not play.
“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,” the Ghana star said.
And Boateng feels powerful black stars can send a powerful message by setting aside a day when they stay out of work. “Do one thing, take every black person out of sports and every black actor out of the movies and how is it going to be? Boring. I want to get a day that no black player goes to work, maybe on George Floyd’s birthday. Not because we don’t want to work or disrespect our club but to honour our black community.”
The former Tottenham, AC Milan and Barcelona star knows there are complications for sportsmen in standing up against racism but wants them to toughen up. “I can understand because it is an uncomfortable position. Many people think if I share, repost or say something wrong I will lose my sponsorship. They have to become comfortable. This is something bigger than a sponsor or anything like that. In the moment if you say the wrong words, but you mean the right thing, you will never do wrong when you try to help the human race.”
Boateng was born to a Ghanaian father and German mother and Berlin and says he has had to consistently deal with racism but he got his awakening while at Milan when he was abused in a friendly game and walked off.
“It was a powerful image and still is now. But I think even now people are scared they are going to get sanctioned,” he said about that day 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,” he added in a powerful message