England legend Viv Anderson calls on all Premier League stars to take a knee for George Floyd – The Sun

VIV ANDERSON is calling on all Premier League players to take a knee in memory of George Floyd when football resumes.

Anderson, the first black player to play a full international for England, said: “If I was still playing I think I would do it, of course.

“If they feel so passionately about it — and most human beings would think that way — it’s the right thing to do.

“The Premier League and FA must say it [Floyd’s death] is not acceptable and you are within your rights to get down on one knee to show solidarity for someone who has lost their life in America.”

Taking a knee started in 2016 when NFL star Colin Kaepernick knelt in protest at the unfair treatment of Black Americans.

Players in Germany have been making the gesture and Anderson feels our stars should follow suit.

But Anderson is clear on two things: taking a knee IS only a gesture, and the UK must fa­­­­­­­ce up to its own racism problems.

He said: “There have been people in Manchester, London, all around the country protesting about George Floyd.

“But then there was a guy on the telly, about 30 years of age, who does work for local charities, and he’s been stopped and searched over 30 times.

“These things happen all the time in the UK. To say it happens in America, but doesn’t happen here, is very naive. It’s very stupid to think that way.”

Taking a knee is a gesture, which shows the right frame of mind and should be done. But tackling racism is a long-term thing.

Anderson made English football history with his debut against Czechoslovakia in 1978. But the ex-Nottingham Forest, Arsenal and Manchester United defender was also something of a pioneer in management.

Weeks after Keith Alexander became English football’s first full-time black manager of the Premier League era in 1993 (and second in history), Anderson was put in charge of Barnsley.

Anderson said: “There were headlines in the paper saying ‘this is the start of a new revolution’, but 30 years on we’re not much further forward.

“Now the perception is, ‘they make good footballers, but can’t make good managers’.

“Les Ferdinand has done well at QPR and got himself in a management role where he makes decisions. But they are few and far between.

“There are 17-year-old players starting now who might one day want to be a manager. How many black managers can they look up to and say, ‘I want to be like him?’ It’s wrong.”

Growing up in Nottingham, he learned “absolutely nothing” about black history at school.

Important figures in football and society, like first black professional player Arthur Wharton, were unknown to him until much later in life.

Anderson said: “I opened his exhibition at the National Football Museum but I had never heard of him before that!

“He ended up wrestling, running 100m, he was a goalkeeper, in the 1800s. It was an unbelievable story.”

Anderson, who now leads the Playonpro organisation that helps former professional athletes find new careers, added: “We’ve got to educate our next generation that this is not acceptable in 2020.

“People like Paul Ince, myself, Rio Ferdinand, Andy Cole, Dwight Yorke — people who have been through the bad times with stories to tell — should be utilised in many ways.

“Taking a knee is a gesture, which shows the right frame of mind and should be done. But tackling racism is a long-term thing. It’s not putting your knee down for one week and forgetting about it for the rest of the season.”

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