England and Manchester City striker Raheem Sterling supported protests across the UK, saying “the only disease at the moment is the racism we are fighting against”.
Thousands of people participated in the Black Lives Matter marches in the UK, despite government warnings to avoid mass meetings due to the coronavirus threat.
“This is the most important thing at the moment, because it has been going on for years and years,” said Sterling, 25.
Major protests were held in London, Bristol, Manchester, Wolverhampton, Nottingham, Glasgow and Edinburgh after the death of American George Floyd.
Floyd, 46, died when he was arrested on May 25 in Minneapolis. The four police officers involved were charged with the death, which sparked days of US protests and demonstrations around the world.
Speaking to the BBC’s Newsnight program, Sterling said: “Like the pandemic, 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 that they are seeing and are fighting for their cause.
“As long as they are doing it peacefully and safely and not hurting anyone and not invading any stores, they continue to protest in that peaceful way.”
Many sportsmen demonstrated in protest over the death of Floyd, with Jadon Sancho, Sterling’s partner in England, making statements on the field in the German Bundesliga.
Sterling, whose City team returned to Premier League action on June 17, had previously spoken of racist abuse he suffered and the media portrait of black players.
Asked if speaking becomes more difficult as a football player, he said: “First of all, I don’t think about my work when things like this happen. I think about what is right.
“And right now, there is so much that people can take. There are so many communities and other origins that they can take – especially black people.
“This has been going on for hundreds of years and people are tired and ready for change.
“I keep saying that word. I see a lot of people on social media supporting the cause. But this is something that needs more than just talking.
“We really need to implement changes and highlight the places that need change.
“But this is something that I will continue to do myself, and trigger these debates and get people in my industry to look at each other and think about what they can do to give people an equal chance in this country.
“I hope that other industries can do that, as well as everyday society and the system.”
Talk if you feel the need – Archer
England rhythm player Jofra Archer says last week’s events show “so many people around the world are behind equality”.
The 25-year-old was subjected to racist abuse by a spectator during the last day of the defeat in New Zealand’s first test in 2019.
“People no longer sit in silence and let unfair things happen,” Archer wrote in his Daily Mail column.
“As an individual, I have always been a talkative, especially if something bothers you. My personal opinion is that you should never keep things bottled up, because racism is not good.
“If you feel the need to speak, you should do so. I accept that others may choose not to make it public and deal with things in their own way, but that is why I acted when I was verbally abused in New Zealand the last time. year.”
The responsible spectator – a man from Auckland – was banned from watching international and domestic matches in the country for two years after admitting the abuse.