Athletes who are activists should be supported – Mann
As more athletes continue to use their platforms to address current social issues, British journalist Leon Mann believes that those athletes deserve support in their efforts to effect change.
In a recent Gleaner Sports Live interview, Mann praised the recent actions of Manchester City forward Raheem Sterling and Manchester United striker Marcus Rashford in their efforts to bring change to particular issues in the United Kingdom (UK).
Sterling has been vocal recently about his desire for more diversity in football, regarding management and executive positions, in the wake of global protests for racial equality, while Rashford lobbied the UK government in extending the food voucher programme that provides meals to disadvantaged children. Mann believes such actions should be commended and celebrated.
"We have to support those who are putting their necks on the line. These are people who are meant to be doing sport.
They shouldn't have to be in a position where they are doing these things because the structures in society should enable politicians and campaigners to have these proper conversations," he said. "However, people are having to be embarrassed to have these conversations."
Worthy of applause
Mann says that persons like Sterling should be applauded for speaking out on specific problems regarding race, which Mann says had not been previously discussed on this scale. "Sterling is talking about systemic racism, structural racism. These are things that haven't been done by our athletes in the past," he said. "He is getting good knowledge, good people around him to help him articulate some really serious problems that are affecting not only black people in the football world but in every single area of our society. So we have to big up someone like Raheem Sterling every single time."
However footballers have been criticized by UK health minister Matt Hancock insisting that EPL players must take pay cuts and do their part in the Coronavirus relief effort. Mann says that the criticism was unfair and that a negative perception was placed on them regarding their monetary success.
"It kind of feels that people have a problem with people from [working class] backgrounds having and earning huge wealth," he said.
"You are rich young men and you get paid for playing football so you guys should be doing more for this country. What was interesting is that I didn't see them calling out all the bankers. Because they got plenty of rich bankers here in the UK and bankers who dumped us in a lot of problems economically not so long ago and were bailed out by the government."