Lilian Thuram wants football to tackle racism
Lilian Thuram wants football to tackle racism

Former France defender Lilian Thuram believes the efforts of Colin Kaepernick, LeBron James and other athletes in speaking out against racism have changed society for the better.

Thuram praised Kaepernick and James and others who have made their voices heard, including footballers Jordan Henderson and Megan Rapinoe, and England manager Gareth Southgate.

However, the 49-year-old urged more players to speak up on the issue and also called for increased education on the subject.

"If you know the history of racism, you know to what extent high-level sportsmen and women have made society change for the better," Thuram told Stats Perform.

"There are a lot of people of very good will who want to get out of these patterns of domination linked to skin colour.

"Recently I was very happy to hear the words of Jordan Henderson, the Liverpool captain. The coach of the English national team has also spoken out about these issues. LeBron James, when he speaks, it's important. When you see Rapinoe, it's important. Colin Kaepernick, I think he's extraordinary.

"Because, to be very outspoken, very often, when you look at history, is to look for trouble. That's why some people don't say anything and act like they don't know. Most of the players are aware of what is going on and it doesn't matter what colour they are.

"So, yes, there are players [who are speaking out]. But you must encourage the players who are silent to speak up. It's very important. You must educate the players. You must educate the children to say: 'No, I don't accept that.'"

Thuram says he had to contend with racial prejudices in his playing days and encouraged people to be more aware of the issue and to stand up against it.

"I myself, when I was a young football player, was subject to a lot of racial prejudice," Thuram continued. "In [my] book, I recount an exchange with one of my team-mates after training, and he said to me: 'You know what, with your physique and my intelligence, I would be an incredible player.'

"First, to change things, you have to be aware of the problem.  It would be interesting to say: 'Racism is a real scourge in our country, we must make sure it changes.'

"Racism is primarily a way of thinking. It is a series of prejudices. And you are the history, we are the history of these prejudices. Racism is part of our cultural heritage, as is sexism, as are the accents, the languages you speak.

"That's why I say again, I am not looking to make people feel guilty. I simply invite people to question themselves and to understand that.

"Therefore, we must invite people to take a stand and not think that we can remain neutral when talking about racism. If you are neutral, it means that you support what is happening. Many people who do not experience racism think that racism is not their problem. 

"Therefore, I invite readers to think about this. Can we escape these identities and consider ourselves above all as human beings?"

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