The battle against racism in football won’t stop like the news – Kevin-Prince Boateng

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Monza striker, Kevin-Prince Boateng has said his battle against racism is far from over.

Speaking with ESPN about this remarkable year, in which the causes he’s fought for throughout his career, and the biases he’s faced throughout his life, have been magnified to unprecedented levels, he said more needed to be done to fight racial injustice.

The matter got to the front burner in world discourse when an American, George Floyd was killed by a police officer in May. The issue catapulted the Black Lives Matter movement into the consciousness of an international, digitally aware population.

Boateng in action for Monza

It could be recalled that Floyd, a Black man, died in Minneapolis while in police custody after a white officer kneeled on his neck for more than seven minutes.

Boateng reveals how he began the battle against racism

The Ghanaian is one of the most traveled footballers. He began the fight to raise awareness and combat racial injustice in 2013 by walking off the pitch in a friendly between AC Milan and Pro Patria in the face of racist tormenting.

To him, that represented the start of the battle. He also hoped for a greater realisation of the pervasive inequalities that continue to exist.

The matter came to the front burner again during Istanbul Basaksehir’s Champions League clash with Paris Saint-Germain on Tuesday.

The players walked off the pitch after the 4th official allegedly used a racist remark against Pierre Webo, the Assistant coach. This forced the suspension of the game. UEFA had to use separate officials to prosecute the match.

“Finally!, it’s been seven, almost eight years, since 2013, and we had to wait until 2020. We had to lose other brothers, other people, until we finally stood up, we finally got heard, and everybody started talking and opening their mouths.

“There was a long time when I was the only person talking about it, when I had a possibility, and now finally I’m happy.

“I’m relieved that everyone is on the same train, it gave me joy to see that there are people out there who are willing to fight for it and go against all of the odds.”

The 33-year-old further expressed delight that the movement has been sustained beyond the news cycle and remains present seven months after Floyd’s killing. He therefore called on people to be more proactive and less passive in their support for racial equality.

“I spoke to friends directly and I said: ‘I don’t care that you’re posting a Black picture [on social media]. Thank you, you’re showing that you understand or you see what’s happening, but I want you to post a video, to say it.

“I want people to see you face and say ‘I stand with my Black brothers, I support them, Black lives matter and we are all the same.’ I wanted more of that, to get people emotional, because they have to understand how we’re feeling.

“I know it may be difficult for a white person to understand how a Black person is feeling when we’re being racially abused, but to be there, to be on our side, that’s what we needed.

“It was all just a little bit slow for me, because it was the right moment in that moment to show your support.”

As part of the efforts made to continue raising awareness for racial equality, and to celebrate the progress of the Black Lives Matter movement, Boateng has collaborated with Puma to produce a special boot — bearing the BLM name — and symbolising the fight for equality that he carries with him onto the pitch.

Although progress has been made, it’s clear there’s still much awareness to raise. As far as Boateng is concerned, the battle against racism is far from over.

“Many people are talking about it but they don’t know why they’re talking about it. They’re saying ‘Black Lives Matter’ but yeah, why do they matter? What do you feel? What’s your experience?”

Boateng futher appreciated the continuing momentum and visibility of the fight, and the allyship he has encountered from non-Black teammates and friends.

“It gives you wings. Because of the pain and the anger you have inside, when the people around you stick to you and show you that they are with you, it gives you wings, it makes you fly.

“I’m happy with what’s happening, I see it’s keeping going, it’s not stopping like the news.

“When a tragedy happens, people don’t talk about it anymore, it’s always like that, but this is still going, it’s still moving forward, and you see ‘Black Lives Matter’ everywhere.”

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