FIFA Estimates COVID-19 Will Cost Global Football $11 Billion

Fifa, World Cup Draw

 

FIFA on Wednesday put the cost of Covid-19 on football around the world at $11 billion in lost revenue.

The pandemic has already led to over 150 football associations to seek financial help from the $1.5 billion emergency relief fund set up by football’s governing body.

Olli Rehn, chairman of FIFA’s coronavirus steering committee, laid bare for the first time the true financial impact the virus has had on the game through fixture list chaos, empty stadiums and loss of TV rights revenue.

“It’s a huge number and it covers the football economy in its entirety, including all youth academies,” Rehn, a Finnish politician and governor of the Bank of Finland, told a press conference.

“This will impact next year as well, there is a carry over.

“That is why this Covid-19 relief fund is not time-bound – they may request loans later on if they need to,” Rehn, who is also independent deputy chairman of the FIFA Governance Committee, said.

He said that while Europe was hit hardest in terms of absolute cost, it was the associations outside Europe which “have suffered more”.

“In particular in South America, many on account of their relative means and the spring to autumn season,” he said.

Last month European Club Association chairman Andrea Agnelli predicted lost revenue of four billion euros over two years for its member clubs.

Each national association can request a FIFA grant of $1million ($2mn for confederations) plus $500,000 for women’s football.

Loans are available to national associations up to a maximum value of $5mn ($4mn for confederations).

Rehn was at pains to stress that unlike in the past it was imperative the money made available by FIFA “is being used for the right purposes”.

“Corruption has no room in football,” he stated.

“Good governance is at the heart of this Covid-19 relief fund,” he said.

“We have made this clear to member associations. I know some member associations have complained about heavy compliance procedures – I’m quite used to that. We do require full compliance and we have been working with globally-known auditing companies.

He gave some examples of how the relief fund is already being put into use, like in Thailand, where it has helped restart the national league competition, including coronavirus testing, but also to implement video assistant referee (VAR) technology.

Mexico spent its entire $1.5mn grant on its national women’s league, and in Brazil the funds are supporting the testing programme in the women’s competition.

And in Uruguay, the money has helped the federation re-hire staff it had been forced to lay off, who were crucial to its effective operation.

AFP

England Announces Equal Pay For National Teams

File photo: England’s defender Steph Houghton (hidden) is congratulated by teammates after scoring a goal during the France 2019 Women’s World Cup round of sixteen football match between England and Cameroon, on June 23, 2019, at the Hainaut stadium in Valenciennes, northern France. Denis Charlet / AFP

 

England men’s and women’s senior players have been paid the same match fee for representing their country since January 2020, the Football Association confirmed on Thursday.

Brazil on Wednesday joined Australia, Norway and New Zealand on the list of football associations who had publicly committed to paying their men and women players the same amount for earning a senior cap.

“The FA pays its women’s players exactly the same as their male counterparts for representing England, both in terms of match fees and match bonuses,” the FA said in a statement.

“This parity has been in place since January 2020.”

In March 2019, the US women’s team, the current world champions, sued their federation alleging discrimination over pay and conditions.

A judge dismissed their case in May this year but the team have appealed that ruling.

AFP

Klopp Might Quit Football Post Liverpool

Montgomery Waters Meadow Stadium in Shrewsbury, north-west of Birmingham in England on January 26, 2020. Anthony Devlin / AFP

 

Jurgen Klopp says he might turn his back on football once his present contract with Premier League champions Liverpool ends in 2024.

The 53-year-old German had wanted to take a year off after he left Borussia Dortmund in 2015 but Liverpool came calling that October asking him to replace Brendan Rodgers.

Since then he has guided them to the Champions League trophy in 2019 and this year ended a 30-year wait for the league title.

However, he told German website Sportbuzzer that taking a year out in 2024 will give him time to reflect on what he wants to do next.

“I will take a year off and ask myself if I miss football,” Klopp said.

“If the answer is in the negative, then that will be it for Jurgen Klopp as a coach.”

Klopp — who broke Bayern Munich’s stranglehold on the German title winning it with Dortmund two years running (2010/11, 2011/12) — also revealed what he would miss least about the high-pressure business of football management.

“If one day I’m not a coach anymore, there’s one thing I won’t miss: The brutal tension just before the game,” he said.

“That’s no laughing matter.”

Having landed the first English league title for Liverpool in 30 years, Klopp said the new champions are eager for more silverware.

The task facing Liverpool in defending the league crown is formidable as only Manchester City in the past 11 years has achieved that (2017/18, 2018/19).

“The whole club is up for the new season and wants to do it even better,” said Klopp.

“We want to chase our opponents and continue to be a super unpleasant team that is not fun to play against.

“We’re not defending any titles, we want to get new ones, we’ve only just started winning.”

AFP

Bundesliga To Allow Fans In Stadium Upon Govt Approval

The Chief Executive Officer of German Football League (DFL), Christian Seifert. AFP

 

Germany’s first and second division football clubs have said they are ready to allow some fans back into stadiums next season if the country’s government gives the green light later this month.

The Chief Executive Officer of German Football League (DFL), Christian Seifert, said the possibility of fans in stadiums depend solely on the approval of authorities amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“If and when fans will return to the stadiums is not a decision for the DFL but for the political leaders,” he said during a press conference on Tuesday.

“The DFL does not expect or demand anything but we are preparing to take this small step [with fans in stadiums] when the time comes.

“Priority is not full stadiums but the health situation. We should not take unnecessary risks but we should also not capitulate and just expect it to go away.”

Benfica’s German midfielder Julian Weigl (L) challenges Sporting’s Cape Verdean Jovane Cabral (R) during the Portuguese League football match between SL Benfica and Sporting CP at Luz stadium in Lisbon on July 25, 2020. PATRICIA DE MELO MOREIRA / AFP

 

The health ministers of the individual German states are due to meet next week to discuss the matter and the new Bundesliga season starts on September 18. The German Cup first round starts a week earlier.

Seifert said that if fans were allowed into stadiums there would be no visiting supporters at least until the end of the year to minimise the risk of infection, no standing tribunes and no alcohol sales.

The Bundesliga became the first major football league to restart its season in May after a two-month break, earning praise for its health and safety protocols that were subsequently adopted by other European leagues. The league season ended in empty stadiums in May and June.

The German government has banned all events with large crowds until October 31.

The country fears a second wave of infections and the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases increased by 879 to 211,281.

Red Card Warning For Deliberate Coughing In Football

Referee Anthony Taylor (C) shows a red card to Chelsea’s Croatian midfielder Mateo Kovacic (2L) during the English FA Cup final football match between Arsenal and Chelsea at Wembley Stadium in London, on August 1, 2020. (Photo by Catherine Ivill / POOL / AFP) 

 

 

Footballers can be sent off if referees judge they have coughed deliberately at opponents or match officials in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, say the sport’s rule-makers and England’s Football Association.

The International Football Association Board (IFAB) said it was up to the referee to judge whether he felt the cough was an abusive gesture.

 

FC Porto’s Portuguese coach Sergio Conceicao (C) argues with an assistant referee after receiving a red card during the ‘Taca de Portugal’ (Portugal’s Cup) final football match between SL Benfica and FC Porto at the City Stadium of Coimbra on August 1, 2020. (Photo by CARLOS COSTA / AFP)

IFAB classified deliberate coughing as similar to “using offensive, insulting or abusive language and/or gestures”.

“As with all offences, the referee has to make a judgement about the true nature of the offence,” it said.

“If it were clearly accidental, then the referee would not take action nor if the ‘cough’ took place with a large distance between the players.

“However, where it is close enough to be clearly offensive, then the referee can take action.”

 

Lyon’s Brazilian midfielder Thiago Mendes (L) is shown a red card during the French League Cup final football match between Paris Saint-Germain vs Olympique Lyonnais at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis on July 31, 2020. (Photo by GEOFFROY VAN DER HASSELT / AFP)

 

The FA’s guidance for grassroots football in England will come into force immediately.

“If the incident was not severe enough to merit a sending-off, a caution could be issued for ‘unsporting behaviour’,” it wrote in a document.

 

Saint-Etienne’s French defender Loic Perrin (C) receives a rec card from French referee Amaury Delerue (R) during the French Cup final football match between Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) and Saint-Etienne (ASSE) on July 24, 2020, at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis, outside Paris. (Photo by FRANCK FIFE / AFP)

It added referees must not look to punish “routine” coughing and “action can only be supported where it is evident it was a clear act against someone else”.

 

Referee Martin Atkinson (2R) shows the red card to Leicester City’s Northern Irish defender Jonny Evans (2L) during the English Premier League football match between Leicester City and Manchester United at King Power Stadium in Leicester, central England on July 26, 2020. (Photo by CARL RECINE / POOL / AFP) 

Rio To Allow Football Fans From July 10

Handout picture released by the Communication Department of Botafogo showing a man disinfecting the tunnel of the Nilton Santos stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on June 28, 2020, minutes before the start of the 2020 Carioca Championship match between Botafogo and Cabofriense which will be played behind closed-doors amid the COVID-19 novel coronavirus pandemic. Vitor SILVA / Botafogo / AFP.

 

The state of Rio de Janeiro will allow football fans into stadiums from July 10, initially at one-third capacity, according to an official decree.

Capacity will move to two-thirds from August 1, while stadiums will be able to function with no restrictions from August 16, said the decree published by Rio townhall on Friday.

The initial easing must allow for 4 sqm per person and ticket sales will only be online.

The Rio state championship has been the first to resume in South America, a region hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.

The league, comprising professional teams within Rio state, resumed behind closed doors on June 18.

Brazil has the second-highest number of infections and deaths from the new coronavirus worldwide, after the United States: more than 1.2 million and 55,000, respectively.

And one of Brazil’s top football clubs, Fluminense, won its battle Friday not to play matches at a stadium also serving as a coronavirus hospital, which it argued was disrespectful to victims and their families.

READ ALSO: Dortmund Open Door For Meunier To Play Champions League With PSG

Struggling to avoid the collapse of the health system as the pandemic surges in Brazil, authorities have set up a field hospital in the parking lot at Rio de Janeiro’s iconic Maracana stadium.

Paradoxically, the venue also began hosting matches again last week, after a three-month coronavirus hiatus on all professional football across the continent.

AFP

UEFA Chief Says Premature End To French Season May Not Harm Lyon, PSG

This handout provided by UEFA shows UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin giving a press conference closing an executive Committee meeting at the UEFA headquarters on June 17, 2020 in Nyon. – The 2019-2020 Champions League, suspended since March because of the coronavirus pandemic, will be completed in a ‘Final Eight’ in Lisbon in August, UEFA said. Harold Cunningham / UEFA / AFP.

 

UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin said on Wednesday that the French football league’s decision in April, guided by the government, to end its season was premature.

“It’s the decision of the French League, the French Federation and of course the French authorities. My personal opinion is that the decision was brought quite early,” said Ceferin at a press conference on the plans for the resumption of European competitions.

UEFA announced that the Champions League will be completed in a ‘Final Eight’ in Lisbon in August.

Lyon, who still have to play their last-16 second leg tie against Juventus, and quarter-finalists Paris Saint-Germain are among 12 surviving teams.

With France’s Ligue 1 already ended, when Lyon attempt to defend their 1-0 lead over Juventus, either in Portugal or in Turin and probably on the weekend of August 7-8, the French club will not have played a match for almost five months.

PSG would return to action in the quarterfinal in Lisbon on August 12-15. They last played when they beat Borussia Dortmund on March 11.

In contrast, the 10 other clubs still in the Champions League all play in leagues that have resumed.

Ceferin said it was unclear if the French clubs would be harmed by their lack of domestic action.

“This season is very special, it will finish differently, so it is very hard to see what exactly is an advantage or disadvantage,” the Slovenian said.

The French League declared the 2019-2020 season over on April 30, two days after Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said in a speech that the “2019-20 season of professional sports, particularly football, will not be able to resume”.

PSG were crowned champions. UEFA repeated on Wednesday that it wanted the names of clubs qualifying for next season’s European cup competitions as early as August 3.

Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas, whose club will miss out on European football next season unless they win the Champions League, is challenging the way the French league ended in court.

AFP

Premier League’s International Appeal Faces COVID-19 Test

FILES) In this file photo taken on February 29, 2020 A Bournemouth supporter wearing PPE (personal protective equipment), including a face mask as a precautionary measure against COVID-19, waits in the stands during the English Premier League football match between Bournemouth and Chelsea at the Vitality Stadium in Bournemouth, southern England. Adrian DENNIS / AFP.

 

When the 100 day-wait for Premier League football comes to an end on Wednesday, the anticipation will be felt as keenly in Mumbai and Beijing as in Manchester and Birmingham.

The global reach of the English top-flight has helped secure its position as the wealthiest league in world football.

The Premier League’s overseas television rights deals for the 2019-2022 three-season cycle hit a record £4.2 billion ($5.3 billion) and another £2 billion deal has already been struck for Scandinavian rights between 2022 and 2028.

That income will be all the more welcome, with uncertainty over when supporters will be allowed back into stadiums and commercial revenues expected to tumble in a global economic crisis.

However, without the atmosphere generated by baying fans, the Premier League’s appeal may be diminished in football’s new normal.

“What makes it special in England is the way people react to the game,” former Arsenal manager and FIFA’s chief of global football development Arsene Wenger told The Athletic.

“It is the best country in the world for the way the fans respond to what’s happening on the pitch. That’s why I think it will be the most handicapped championship without that.”

– Reschedule rebate –

The need to cram the remaining 92 games of the season into a five-and-a-half week window also means many more midweek games with evening kick-offs in England, forcing fans in the Far East to tune in during the early hours.

Overseas broadcasters will be compensated with a reported £107 million rebate due to the change in scheduling.

However, the excitement over the Premier League’s return endures, particularly among the huge number of Liverpool fans, many of whom are awaiting a first league title in their lifetimes.

Jurgen Klopp’s men are just two wins away from being crowned champions of England for the first time in 30 years.

Hu Zhifei, a 26-year-old journalist and member of Liverpool’s official fan club in Beijing, had planned a trip to see his heroes in action in February that was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“Nobody is anticipating the league’s restart more than Liverpool fans because we are within two wins of the title,” said Hu, who will tune in to watch the Reds via internet streaming despite kick-offs in the early hours.

Excitement is also building in India, where the Premier League has built up a strong following among urban youth in a traditionally cricket-obsessed nation.

“Finally I’ll watch some live EPL action. I have already chalked out a schedule for these matches,” Qazi Ahmad Masood, a 17-year-old student, told AFP. “I would love to see my favourite club Liverpool lift the trophy.”

– ‘Fast and exciting’ –

One of the difficulties that lies ahead for the Premier League’s brand will be to maintain the intensity of competition on the field in echoing, empty stadiums.

“The Premier League is fast and exciting and no matter whether it is a strong or weak team, the games are great to watch,” said Hu.

Fans watching at home will be offered pre-recorded fan noise dubbed over the action to compensate for the real thing.

“There is something about the legend that is English football that is all about noise and atmosphere and proximity,” Simon Chadwick, director of Eurasian sport at Emlyon business school in France told AFP.

“That spectacle, the product, the noise, the atmosphere, the experience won’t necessarily be there.”

However, by overcoming a series of obstacles just to get back playing in the country that is the worst-hit by coronavirus in Europe, the Premier League is confident it will not lose ground in the long run against the Bundesliga, La Liga or Serie A in the battle for viewers across the globe.

“We know it won’t be the same without our loyal supporters in stadiums but, together with our broadcast partners, we are able to ensure fans can watch or listen to each match live from home,” said the Premier League’s chief executive Richard Masters.

AFP

Messi Caps Barcelona Win Over Mallorca On La Liga Return

Barcelona’s Argentinian forward Lionel Messi smiles during the Spanish League football match between RCD Mallorca and FC Barcelona at the Visit Mallorca stadium (Son Moix stadium) in Palma de Mallorca on June 13, 2020. (Photo by JAIME REINA / AFP)

 

Lionel Messi returned without a beard and with a goal and two assists as Barcelona resumed their La Liga title challenge on Saturday with a thumping 4-0 victory over Real Mallorca.

After three months away because of the coronavirus pandemic, Barca exploded into the lead with just 64 seconds played when Arturo Vidal headed in and Martin Braithwaite struck a second from a Messi headed assist.

Jordi Alba latched onto a Messi pass to add a third but not before play was briefly stopped by a pitch invader, who was able to run on, despite the match being closed to fans.

Messi then scored a fourth in injury time for his 25th goal of the season.

“I’m happy because starting like this is an enormous boost for what’s to come,” said Barcelona coach Quique Setien.

Victory extends Barca’s advantage at the top of La Liga to five points over Real Madrid, who can reduce the gap back to two when they restart at home to Eibar on Sunday.

La Liga’s first match back came on Thursday between Sevilla and Real Betis, with teams scheduled to each play their remaining 11 matches of the season in less than six weeks.

READ ALSO: Four Things From The Return Of La Liga

Messi will be crucial to Barcelona’s hopes of holding off Madrid but their captain, who turns 33 this month, may have to pace himself, especially after an injury-interrupted season.

Clean shaven, and without any sign of the thigh problem that prevented him from training earlier this month, Messi played 90 minutes and looked like he had never been away.

– Suarez back –

His goal was set up by Luis Suarez and the sight of the Uruguayan coming off the bench would have been welcome for coach Setien too.

Suarez has not played since undergoing knee surgery in January and was able to recover during the suspension. He could play an important part in the run-in.

Asked what pleased him most, Setien said: “The satisfaction of seeing Luis again on the field. You have to admire the performance he gave in those 35 minutes that he played. Starting like this is very important for him and for the team as well.”

Mallorca, who sit 18th in La Liga, were never going to offer the sternest of tests but this was a useful outing for both Barcelona’s fitness and morale.

Before matches were suspended in Spain because of coronavirus on March 12, Barca had regained top spot but only after being convincingly beaten by Madrid the week before.

This performance suggests time away might have done them good and it remains to be seen now how Madrid respond. Madrid’s next four matches all come after their title rivals have played first.

Barcelona were in front after just over a minute as Frenkie de Jong did well to recover the ball from a loose touch before Alba sent a deep cross to the arriving Vidal, who headed in.

Mallorca were under relentless pressure as Braithwaite and Messi both went close to adding a second. Mallorca’s Takefusa Kubo, on loan from Real Madrid, forced a good save out of Marc-Andre ter Stegen on the break.

But Barca scored a second before half-time as an Alba cross span up and both De Jong and then Messi feathered headers across for Braithwaite to bang in on the half-volley, his first goal for the club.

Both teams eased off in the second period and there were smiles on the Barcelona players’ faces when a pitch invader ran on in the 52nd minute wearing an Argentina shirt. He posed for a picture with Alba before being escorted away.

Alba added a third after finishing off Messi’s clipped ball over the top and then Messi grabbed a goal himself. Suarez fooled his marker by letting the ball run across his body and Messi weaved inside where he could unleash with his right foot.

Mallorca’s defeat, combined with losses for Leganes and Celta Vigo, made it the perfect day for Espanyol, who made up ground on their relegation rivals by beating Alaves.

Chinese striker Wu Lei, who tested positive for coronavirus in March, scored on his first game back to seal a 2-0 victory and put Espanyol within three points of safety.

They are now level on points with Leganes, who lost 2-1 at home to Real Valladolid, and three behind Celta, who conceded in the 91st minute for a 1-0 defeat by Villarreal.

AFP

Four Things From The Return Of La Liga

La-Liga-Logo
File: La Liga logo

 

La Liga is back after a three-month coronavirus shutdown with games behind closed doors, and with Lionel Messi looking different but playing like he always does.

AFP Sport picks out some of the standout images of the return of top-flight football in Spain:

– Messi back with new look –

More than three months had passed since Messi’s last appearance on a football field. The six-time Ballon d’Or winner will be 33 in little over a week, but while he approaches veteran status, his post-lockdown look is more of a reminder of the young Messi.

The hair is longer and swept over to one side. Most strikingly the beard has gone, leaving the Argentine looking fresh-faced.

La Liga’s leading scorer looked sharp with the ball at his feet too, and scored the final goal of a 4-0 win away in Mallorca — after earlier strikes by Arturo Vidal, Martin Braithwaite and Jordi Alba — as Barcelona moved five points clear of title tivals Real Madrid, who play on Sunday.

– Virus victims remembered –

La Liga’s return is a boost for a football-mad country that has been ravaged by the coronavirus, with more than 27,000 officially recorded deaths making it one of the worst-hit nations worldwide in the pandemic.

READ ALSO: Messi Caps Barcelona Win Over Mallorca On La Liga Return

Like other sports competitions getting going again, strict health protocols mean games in Spain are being played behind closed doors, ensuring unusual atmospheres at matches that would otherwise go ahead in front of large crowds like the derby between Valencia and Levante.

At Mestalla, as elsewhere, a minute’s silence was held before kick-off to remember those victims of Covid-19.

– The new matchday experience –

Without access to stadiums, supporters are still coming together to watch games. However, only a limited number of Barcelona fans could access this supporters’ club in the Catalan capital to watch their team’s game against Mallorca.

Spaced out to respect social distancing measures, and wearing face masks, they took in Barca’s win which allowed the defending champions to extend their lead at the top of the table.

Without fans inside grounds, broadcasters have instead been projecting virtual crowds taken from the computer game FIFA onto seats, and adding crowd chants.

– Suarez boon for Barca –

Barcelona’s first game since March also saw Luis Suarez make his first appearance since early January after injury.

The Uruguayan underwent surgery on a knee problem that at one point threatened to rule him out of the rest of the season, but the coronavirus shutdown has allowed him to come back in time to play a potentially key role in the title run-in.

Suarez replaced Antoine Griezmann in the second half of Barca’s game at Mallorca. He didn’t find the net, but will have a big part to play in the weeks to come, with 10 games left for Quique Setien’s team as they try to fend off Real Madrid’s challenge.

AFP

Aussie Rules Football Welcomes Back Spectators

JUNG YEON-JE / AFP.

 

Thousands of spectators will be able to attend an Australian Rules football match this weekend as the competition resumes after its coronavirus shutdown, officials announced Tuesday.

Saturday’s match between fierce rivals Port Adelaide and Adelaide will be open to just over 2,000 AFL fans in the South Australian city — the biggest sports crowd in the country for months.

About 2,000 people will be permitted to sit in Adelaide Oval’s general admission area, and another 240 in private rooms — well below the venue’s capacity of 53,000 people, to meet social distancing requirements.

South Australian Premier Steven Marshall said numbers would increase “slowly and gradually” throughout the season to ensure fans’ safety.

“Football and crowds are back in South Australia,” he said.

“South Australia will be the first with a significant number of people at an AFL match and the first time we have had a significant crowd at any sport in Australia for months and months and months.

READ ALSO: Cyprus Welcomes First Tourist Flights Since March

“I know sporting fans will be very grateful for that.”

The announcement comes a day after New Zealand’s Super Rugby Aotearoa announced that stadiums would be open to fans this weekend.

While many other sports competitions around the globe have announced plans to restart, the vast majority will be played either with no crowds or numbers severely restricted.

Some competitions have placed cardboard cutouts in seats to make the grounds appear less empty, and broadcasters have piped in canned crowd noises in a bid to create a big-match atmosphere.

AFP

Sterling Calls For More Black Managers In Football

Manchester City’s English midfielder Raheem Sterling goes for a header during the UEFA Champions League Group C football match Atalanta Bergamo vs Manchester City on November 6, 2019 at the San Siro stadium in Milan. Miguel MEDINA / AFP

 

Manchester City star Raheem Sterling has urged English football to use the global anti-racism protests to initiate debates and find solutions regarding the lack of black representation in top leadership positions in the sport.

Calling for racial justice, thousands of protesters have rallied across the UK, joining a wave of demonstrations sparked by the death of African American George Floyd at the hands of US police last month.

England forward Sterling, who has previously been prominent in calling out racism in both the domestic and international game, is the latest sports star to lend his support to the protests.

“The protest is a great starting point, to make your voice be heard. But just protesting alone is not going to make a change in this country,” Sterling said Monday in a BBC TV interview.

“It’s how we move on from here. It’s about highlighting things, the society that needs changing, and then acting upon it. We’ve done a lot of talking, and it’s time now to act.”

“This is a time to speak on these subjects, speak on injustice, especially in my field,” he added.

READ ALSO: Cyprus Welcomes First Tourist Flights Since March

Sterling pointed a finger at the long-running disparity between the number of high-profile Black, Asian and minority ethnic players and the dearth of those who go on to hold significant managerial, coaching or administrative jobs.

“There’s something like 500 players in the Premier League and a third of them are black and we have no representation of us in the hierarchy, no representation of us in the coaching staff. There’s not a lot of faces that we can relate to and have conversations with,” he said.

“With these protests that are going on it’s all well and good just talking, but it’s time that we need to have conversations, to be able to spark debates.

“But at same time, it’s coming together and finding a solution to be able to spark change because we can talk as much as we want about changing and putting people, black people, in these positions that I do feel they should be in.”

– ‘Give equal chances’ –

Sterling contrasted the managerial paths of Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard, who have landed top roles at Rangers and Chelsea, to equally experienced black players who have been compelled to start much lower down the ladder.

“The coaching staff that you see around football clubs: there’s Steven Gerrard, your Frank Lampards, your Sol Campbells and your Ashley Coles. All had great careers, all played for England,” said Sterling.

“At the same time, they’ve all respectfully done their coaching badges to coach at the highest level and the two that haven’t been given the right opportunities are the two black former players.

“The change is being able to speak to people in Parliament, people at the hierarchy at my football club, football clubs across the country, people at the national team of England, to implement change and give equal chances to not just black coaches but also different ethnicities.

“I feel like that’s what’s lacking here, it’s not just taking the knee, it is about giving people the chance they deserve.”

AFP