Recent campaigns have proven that Premier League stars carry more sway than they might realise. Now is the time to use it.
Over the recent, idling months, a shift in power has been realised.
Ingrained in facets of mainstream media, footballers have oft found themselves regarded as little more than kids, plucked from education to instead chase a ball around a pitch. Now, however, some have dismantled these prejudices by becoming mouthpieces for change.
When thinking of athletes who have taken a stand, one instance might spring to mind. It was at the 1968 Olympics that two African-American athletes, Tommie Smith and John Carlos, shared a pair of black gloves and famously raised their fists during the playing of the US national anthem.
Both were later struck from the game for their powerful promotion of black rights, in a fashion reminiscent of NBA quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s debacle, per CNN, nearly fifty years later.
Undeterred by the fates of their fellow athletes, sporting stars continue to utilise their lofty platforms to fight the good fight.
Only now, they’re starting to win.
Never before has a government relented to a footballer. But, then again, never before have footballers boasted such influence.
Now, Manchester-born Marcus Rashford is the latest in a line of Premier League players to use these powers for good.
With the ambition of bringing a long-overdue conclusion to the issue of child hunger across England, the 22-year-old took to Twitter, where a 2 million strong following backed his words through petitions and government pressure.
With their support, Rashford succeeded in his campaign, going from this:
Anybody know who I can talk to about the Government food voucher scheme?
— Marcus Rashford (@MarcusRashford) June 10, 2020
I don’t even know what to say.
Just look at what we can do when we come together, THIS is England in 2020.
— Marcus Rashford (@MarcusRashford) June 16, 2020
All in just five days.
Just months prior to Rashford’s success story, Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson was putting together an initiative of his own.
In a feat of true leadership, Henderson rallied his fellow Premier League captains in order to form the #playerstogether coronavirus relief fund – a trust consisting of donations taken from player wages across the league, all in aid of NHS affiliated charities.
Both drives have served as displays of a willingness and ability to bring about real change, stepping up where even the government does not.
And, amidst the ongoing Black Lives Matter movement, these aforementioned instances seem even more poignant.
Players' names on shirts will be replaced by 'Black Lives Matter' for opening games of the restarted season.
A #BlackLivesMatter logo will feature on shirts for the remainder of the season.
— Professional Footballers' Association (@PFA) June 12, 2020
If anyone is going to make a real difference and finish that which Smith and Carlos started, it may well be the footballers who can so influence a nation, no matter how small the gesture.
After all, sometimes the biggest stand is to take a knee.