The Daily Telegraph - Business : 2020-07-03

Sport : 14 : 6


6 The Daily Telegraph Friday 3 July 2020 *** Sport Football Townsend: It is black lives that matter, not By Ben Rumsby have, in recent days, been grappling with how to separate the “black lives matter” message from the more politicall­y driven movement. There have been calls from MPs for the Premier League to ditch the slogan, while experts have estimated that the Black Lives Matter movement could potentiall­y enjoy free advertisin­g up to a value of £25million from its slogan being adopted by the game. Townsend confronted Black Lives Matter’s divisive criticism of Israel and its promotion of policies such as defunding the police and ending capitalism. One of the leaders of the movement’s UK arm has also argued in favour of rioting. “As far as I’m aware, we were never part of a political organisati­on or this organisati­on Black Lives Matter,” Townsend told Talksport. “We want a black life to matter. It’s the phrase we want to use, but we’re not in any way connected to the actual organisati­on. I think that was clear from day one,” he said. “But, for me, it’s always the case that when you’re trying to do good things, when you’re trying to help change the perception, there’s always going to be people who try to bring you down. “The Premier League have made it clear, and I’m sure that the Premier League captains will come out and make it clear, and we can move on in trying to make real change.” Townsend, the son of the Kick It Out organisati­on’s head of developmen­t Troy Townsend, spoke out after Palace issued a statement on the use of Black Lives Matter banners at Selhurst Park, saying they stood proudly behind the ideals and ethos of “black lives matter”. “We would like to make clear that we do not endorse any pressure group or body that carries the same term in its name, and we strongly believe that organisati­ons should not use this important force for change and positivity to push Midfielder wants clarity on football’s stance on BLM show solidarity with the rest of the black community following the killing of George Floyd. Townsend spoke out as Palace became the second club to criticise the Black Lives Matter organisati­on, after the Premier League confirmed players would continue to wear badges bearing its name and Sky Sports and BT Sport said presenters and pundits would be offered the opportunit­y to do the same. Clubs, players, football executives and broadcaste­rs FA clear Guardiola’s ‘yellow ribbon’ protest was different Andros Townsend yesterday became the first Premier League player to disown Black Lives Matter publicly, after his club highlighte­d the movement’s “political agendas”. The Crystal Palace and England midfielder admitted that the growing row over the campaign’s alleged “far-Left ideology” was an “obstacle” to his and others’ efforts to La Liga How Europe’s other big leagues have handled BLM Marcelo, the Real Madrid full-back, kneeled after scoring against Eibar when the protests were at their height (right). Protests have been from individual players, mostly through social media, unlike the collective gestures of the Premier League. As in Germany, there has been no punishment for showing political symbols. Officials stated they were following Fifa guidelines that players should not be punished. But there is a complex situation with politics as former Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola was fined by the Football Associatio­n for wearing a yellow ribbon in support of Catalan political prisoners. Bundesliga Bayern Munich and Bayer Leverkusen players wore black armbands in support of the BLM movement. Bayern players had “Black Lives Matter” printed on theirs (above). Borussia Dortmund warmed up with slogans such as “United Together” and “No justice, no peace” printed on T-shirts. England forward Jadon Sancho was one of the first athletes to publicise BLM on the pitch when he scored for Dortmund on the weekend of worldwide protests following the death of George Floyd in police custody. The T-shirt under his Dortmund shirt read “Justice For George Floyd” (right). Significan­tly, the German football federation chose not to punish him for displaying a political slogan. Marcus Thuram took a knee after scoring for Borussia Monchengla­dbach earlier that day. Paul Mortimer to move away from exactly what the focus should be. People should refocus on why this thing struck an emotional chord in them at the time, why it continues to strike an emotional chord, not just for black and ethnic minority people but for everyone around the world. And the single most important aim is to make sure we remain focused on challengin­g those in power to make sure black lives really do matter. The killing of George Floyd has made people sit up and go, “Hold on” more than before. It has left an indelible mark on people, and they are saying we have to do something about this. And now we are saying: “We can’t do this or that because it’s political.” That is ridiculous. Because if I am a Premier League footballer who is black, I expect the organisati­on I work for to say something about it. The Premier League has not done this for political currency. It has done it because it is the right thing to do. The real travesty is that in positions of power in the boardroom, the black and ethnic minority representa­tion is less than five per cent. That is a nonsense. The coach placement scheme announced by the Premier League this week is all well and good but there are only six places annually. Football does not take the most important element of this seriously because it does not know how to. It is great offering black and ethnic minority managers and coaches opportunit­ies, but that does not change the environmen­t that suppresses opportunit­y for black coaches. Black and ethnic minority people have never been seen as those in leadership positions and schemes like this are only the tip of the iceberg in re-educating people to understand their worth. Raheem Sterling alluded to Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard and their respective management journeys and their difference to that of black coaches. Lampard said Sterling was slightly wrong in his assessment. Therein lies the problem, because people can say things like that totally unaware of the privilege that they have had. I want white people to understand their whiteness and the impact that has on them. I know about my blackness because the way I am treated makes me aware of it all the time, that I am different, that I am “lesser”, that I will not get the opportunit­ies afforded to people who are white. Black players are never seen as intelligen­t, articulate, quickthink­ing, decisive, but lazy or strong or quick. If we go back in history, how were slaves characteri­sed? It was by their physical ability. There is a definite link. Former Premier League player and coach Do not reduce BLM to a political football I t is important not to lose sight of what Black Lives Matter is really all about, because there are people who will try to make it a political football to kick it about for their own purposes. It is about making people aware how much black lives matter: do black lives matter in organisati­ons? Do black lives matter when people are struggling for jobs? Do black lives matter in the socio-economic situations in our part of the world? That is what it is about. It is not about political currency and one-upmanship. Politics is agenda-driven so when it starts to get political, for me there is an agenda that is trying

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