England rugby star Maro Itoje has opened up about racism in sport and says black players are judged by ‘power and speed’ – and not skill.
The Saracens lock says ‘subtle racism’ results in players being judged to different standards based on their colour.
He said black players are routinely being pigeon-holed for a lack of skill and being ‘all pace and power.’
England rugby star Maro Itoje has opened up about ‘subtle racism’ within sport that means black players are judged by ‘power and speed’ as opposed to skill
Itoje completed a successful season with Saracens by winning the Premiership and the European Cup
Itoje also backed footballer Raheem Sterling in highlighting the difference between how rich black and white sportsmen are represented.
This includes their portrayal when splashing the cash to buy their parents a home – one being described as a ‘lovely’ act, the other being ‘flashy and overpaid.’
Itoje was speaking in a candid podcast interview with Alastair Campbell, the ex-Downing Street Press Secretary, and his daughter Grace, a comedian and activist.
The podcast, titled ‘Football, Feminism and Everything in Between’, is available on Wednesday.
Itoje also backed England footballer Raheem Sterling in his fight against racist attitudes
Some England players were subjected to racial abuse during a recent clash in Montenegro
Itoje said: ‘This is not just about sport. This covers how black people are portrayed in any kind of news, there is always a difference.
‘When they report a murder of a white male, it’s a teenage boy from a loving family in the suburbs, brutally murdered. When it’s a black boy murdered, he was “wearing a hoodie”.
‘It’s the same in punditry – a lot of the time when they describe black players they talk about athleticism, their power, their speed. They don’t talk so much about their skill, their deft touch.’
Itoje says he encountered no racism while studying at Harrow and had ‘not really’ experienced it on or off the pitch as a player, but he has caveats.
‘My experience is not the typical experience of a black man in London because sport is one of the few disciplines or institutions based on merit – (it) should be anyway.’
Itoje was speaking on a podcast with Alastair Campbell (right) and his daughter Grace
And, though he ‘can’t easily recall’ direct racism from opposing fans, he added: ‘Racial abuse on the field I have not personally had but I have friends who have, in county rugby growing up.
‘I know someone who was abused racially in the Under-20s World Cup, so that problem is not fully stamped out.’
Asked if he would ever consider walking off the field of play if he did encounter the kind of abuse Sterling had, Itoje said: ‘I am caught between two minds – nobody should be made to play in front of abusive fans.
‘But I am also thinking one, show them; and two, do they win if you walk off?’
Itoje on the charge for club Saracens during the Premiership rugby final against Exeter Chiefs
Itoje is tackled during England’s international with South Africa at Twickenham in November
It is partly crowd behaviour, as much as the fact that rugby has become his life and career, that ended his love affair with football – that and the realisation that he was ‘wasting too much emotional energy’ on Arsenal.
He added: ‘I was taken aback by the way the fans behaved, towards each other, towards the players.
‘If I had children, unless I had a box I would not take my child because the behaviour was disgraceful. I saw little kids, 12, 12-year-olds, watching their parents swearing, abusing Arsene Wenger, abusing the players.
‘This small boy sees his father do it and so he does it, starts spouting abuse at players, at opposing fans. Horrible.’
Listen to the show on Apple Podcasts by clicking here.
Original article: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/sportsnews/article-7157325/England-rugby-star-Maro-Itoje-slams-coverage-black-players-judged-power-speed.html?ns_mchannel=rss&ito=1490&ns_campaign=1490