“I don’t really think of my job when things like this happen,” said the 25-year-old English international. “I think about what is right and at this point in time, you know, there are only a lot of people who can handle it.” BBC Newsnight, contemplating the global protests sparked by the death of George Floyd.
“It has been going on for hundreds of years and people are tired. People are ready to change. I still say this word.
“I see a lot of people in the social field and the things that support the cause but this is something that needs more than just talking. We really need to implement change.”
A better representation
While acknowledging the protests that followed Floyd’s death was a “wonderful starting point” in sparking the talks, he says that real change will only happen when blacks are better represented in positions of power.
“There are about 500 players in the Premier League and a third of them are black, and we have no representation in the hierarchy, and we are not represented in the training staff,” he said.
“There are not a lot of faces we can relate to and have conversations with.”
Nuno Espírito Santo from Wolfs is the only active manager from BAME black and Asian background and ethnic minorities (BAME) in the English Premier League after Brighton and Chris Hutton were sacked in 2019.
Heaton believes that the racist stereotypes that she has long held up have led to the loss of influential black players who could serve as a role model for future generations.
Stirling used a comparison of four former Premier League stars – Stephen Gerrard, Frank Lampard, Sol Campbell and Ashley Cole – all of whom enjoyed successful careers.
However, the Rangers Gerrard coach and Chelsea manager Lampard are the only two teams to have been given a chance to manage in elite clubs.
“At the same time, they all gave their training badges with respect to the training at the highest level, and the two who were not given the right opportunities are the two former black players,” Stirling said.
We want to find a solution.
While prominent ministers have criticized the demonstrators for their disregard for the social estrangement, Stirling says that people are right to attend and that “the only disease at the present time is the racism we are fighting.”
“This is the most important thing at the moment because this is something that has been going on for years and years,” he said.
“Like an epidemic, we want to find a solution to stop it.
“At the same time, this is what all these protesters are doing. They are trying to find a solution and a way to stop the injustice they see, and they are fighting for their cause.
“As long as they do this in peace and security and do no harm to anyone and do not storm any stores, they continue to protest in this peaceful way.”
Although the protests were largely peaceful in the UK, some turned to raging on Saturday as activists and police clashed near Downing Street. In Bristol, activists tore down a statue of 17th-century slave owner Edward Coulston on Sunday.
Take a stand
Like Sterling, athletes around the world have been outspoken in speaking out after Floyd’s death.
“This is something I will continue to do, sparking these discussions and making people in my industry look at themselves and think about what they can do to give people an equal opportunity in this country,” added Stirling.
“I hope other industries can do this, as well as society and daily order.