Sky Sports pundit Micah Richards also addressed the abuse directed at Alex Scott following the changes to the Soccer Saturday lineup.
Following QPR and Coventry’s decision not to take the knee in their recent Championship match, Rs director of football Les Ferdinand explained the club’s thought process.
However, during Sky’s recent coverage of Wolves vs Manchester City, the panel discussed the decision and Micah Richards explained why taking the knee is still “the right thing to do.” The former Aston Villa and Fiorentina defender also spoke candidly about his experiences of racism in football and the constant online trolling of his fellow pundit, Alex Scott.
With regards to taking the knee, Richards feels that if it makes even one person aware of the problem of racism in society, then it’s worth doing.
Michah Richards on QPR and Reading’s decision.
“[Les Ferdinand] has had a very strong opinion. I’ve heard him talk about racial issues before and he speaks very well. But, it’s difficult. He’s got his opinion, and I respect his opinion, but at the same time the Premier League is one of the biggest leagues in the world.
“To some people, who don’t understand, even if you’ve got the players beforehand going down on the knee, people are going to start to ask questions and yes, we all want more action. Of course, we want more action, we want equality but it’s not going to happen overnight,” he said.
In the weeks after George Floyd was killed in police custody after being knelt on his neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds, an agreement between Sheffield United and Aston Villa players in the first Premier League game following the coronavirus restart in June saw both sides take the knee ahead of kick-off.
This move has since been largely followed across English football.
However, Richards does also believe that some “white people now feel like they are getting tarnished with the racist brush and that’s not fair.”
Micah Richards on the Black Lives Matter movement
“When he says he wants more action, I’m totally with him but this is something that’s been happening for hundreds of years and it’s not going to change overnight. It is getting better. There have been so many people who have come out, not just black people, white people as well and talked about issues that maybe a couple of years ago they’d feel uncomfortable talking about.
“So, yes, I agree it needs more action, but at the same time, even if kneeling helps one person or changes just one person’s mind, I still think it’s the right thing to do.” It’s the magic question. How long do you want to take the knee for?
“But for me, you’ve got to do it until everyone agrees. You know what the problem is? Sometimes it feels like it’s been forced on people and it’s almost turning people the other way. White people now feel like they are getting tarnished with the racist brush and that’s not fair. You read your Instagram, you read your Twitter and the first thing is: ‘Why am I getting tarnished with that brush.’
“So, you’re damned if you do, you’re damned if you don’t. Everyone has got their own opinions on how things can change but for me, we all need to just work together. We all need to understand there is a problem, not just at the lower level, at the top level and if a black person or an ethnic minority wants a chance, they’ve got to put themselves forward, ” he said.
In the aftermath of Sky’s changes to the Soccer Saturday lineup, various people expressed an opinion that certain black pundits were only on TV because broadcasters were looking to tick some kind of diversity box – an absurd notion that the likes of Ian Wright has passionately dismissed.
However, Richards also addressed this notion that he’s only on TV because of the colour of his skin.
Micah Richards on his career as a pundit
“I’m here, working for Sky Sports. One of the biggest corporations in the world and I’m here because I believed in myself. I love football, I love working with Jamie Carragher and I’m in a privileged position and I did this through hard work, and the hard work I put in is not going to be tarnished.
“Yes, [I feel the perception of me has changed through the Black Lives Matter movement]. I’ve got people on Twitter, I’ve got people on Instagram saying: ‘Micah Richards is only on because of this Black Lives Matter movement.’ But I’ve had conversations with corporations that I worked for way before this and now I’m getting tarnished with the same brush that I’m only on TV because of Black Lives Matter, which is disheartening for me because I put in the work.
“I work every single day at my craft. I’ve been a professional footballer, I’ve won a Premier League title, I’ve played at the highest level and I’m still getting stones thrown at me. If I’ve got to fly the flag, if people want to throw stones at me, I’ll happily take it because I know I put in the work,” added the former England international.
It’s arguable that in terms of dealing with online trolls, former Arsenal and England defender Alex Scott bears the brunt of the ire, solely because she’s black and she’s a woman.
Again, it’s worth noting that Scott has made 140 appearances for the English national team, has excelled as a pundit, has a degree in sports journalism and broadcasting, and has appeared on BBC Sport, BT Sport, and Sky Sports.
Micah Richards also referenced the incorrect perception that black pundits like Alex Scott had anything to do with Sky’s decision to change their panllists on Soccer Saturday.
Richards on Alex Scott
“Alex Scott is incredible. She’s one of the best I’ve ever worked with and it’s even worse for her because she’s a woman, and she’s seen as black as well. It’s double jeopardy. She’s in a worse position. She is honestly one of the best pundits I have ever worked with and all you see on social media is: ‘Why is a woman working in men’s football? She doesn’t know.’
“She’s played however many times for England, she knows football inside out and more than most people, and to see the abuse that she gets just because someone’s left their job or not had their contracts renewed, it’s disheartening to see. But, at the same time, it just shows we’ve still got a problem and it’s that awkward conversation we all don’t want to have but we’ve got to have the conversation.”
You can view Micha Richards’ full conversation below.
Clip via Sky Sports Football