Ac­tivism as Manch­ester City beat Arse­nal 3-0

The Star (Jamaica) - - Front Page -

When Manch­ester City scored the first goal the English Premier League (EPL) had seen in 100 days, only medics were in the stands to ap­plaud.

For the last three months, it has been the na­tion ap­plaud­ing the health work­ers.

In pro­tec­tive cloth­ing, the on-duty med­i­cal staff were among only 300 peo­ple al­lowed into the Eti­had Sta­dium for the game against Arse­nal that helped to end the EPL’s shut­down yes­ter­day.

The 55,000 seats that would usu­ally be filled were empty, mostly cov­ered by ban­ners. The only sup­port­ers seen cel­e­brat­ing goals from Ra­heem Ster­ling, Kevin De Bruyne and Phil Fo­den dur­ing City’s 3-0 win were on big screens in the stands, stream­ing live from their homes.

The screens were also used to mourn some of those who died dur­ing the pan­demic. An im­age of Glyn Par­doe, a for­mer City player and coach, was shown three weeks after the virus killed him at the age of 73.

“To­gether we have been fac­ing a health emer­gency,” the City sta­dium an­nouncer said. “He­roes have risen to chal­lenges we never im­aged.”

EPL play­ers, too, have been con­fronting the racism they im­aged so­ci­ety would not still be fac­ing in 2020.

RACIAL IN­JUS­TICE

In­stead of names on the back of all player jer­seys, there was the mes­sage: “Black Lives Mat­ter.” And be­fore kick­off came a show of sol­i­dar­ity against the racial in­jus­tice in so­ci­ety re­in­forced by the death of Ge­orge Floyd while be­ing ar­rested in Min­nesota.

Stand­ing around the cen­tre cir­cle, play­ers took a knee — a pow­er­ful ges­ture un­like any­thing seen be­fore in the league.

“I see it as a mas­sive step by the Premier

League to al­low some­thing like that to hap­pen,” said Ster­ling, who has emerged as English foot­ball’s fig­ure­head in the fight against racism. “It shows we’re head­ing in the right di­rec­tion. Lit­tle by lit­tle, we are see­ing change and that’s what every­one is hop­ing for, not just black play­ers but the ma­jor­ity of the coun­try.”

It was Ster­ling who scored the Premier League’s first goal since March 9 by cap­i­tal­is­ing on an er­ror by David Luiz in first-half stop­page time. The goal cel­e­bra­tion fea­tured a touch of el­bows with team­mates and a brief em­brace to re­spect so­cial dis­tanc­ing. Luiz also ex­ited the game sooner than ex­pected, sent off four min­utes into the sec­ond half for bring­ing down Riyad Mahrez and con­ced­ing a penalty that De Bruyne con­verted.

AP

Manch­ester City’s Kevin De Bruyne scores from the penalty spot for his team’s sec­ond goal dur­ing their English Premier League match against Arse­nal at the Eti­had Sta­dium in Manch­ester, Eng­land, yes­ter­day.

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