Bayern Munich’s Jerome Boateng wants the powerful taking of a knee in support of Black Lives Matter to continue when the Champions League returns because racism “is not something that goes in a month”.
Having been the first major division to resume amid the coronavirus-enforced suspension of football, the Bundesliga led the way in making a strong stance against discrimination.
At the end of May, in the aftermath of the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police, Borussia Dortmund’s Jadon Sancho scored the first professional hat-trick of his career and chose his moment in the spotlight to draw attention to a more significant matter. When the 20-year-old opened his account in the 6-1 victory over Paderborn, he removed his shirt to reveal a message scrawled in black marker.
‘Justice for George Floyd,’ it read – a powerful demand that was later also unveiled by his team-mate Achraf Hakimi.
That weekend, Marcus Thuram scored for Borussia Monchengladbach and marked it by taking a knee – a symbolic protest against police brutality first used in 2016 by NFL player Colin Kaepernick, while Schalke midfielder Weston McKennie sported a ‘Justice for George’ armband.
The following week, Bayern wore t-shirts during their warm-up featuring the words ‘Show racism the red card’ as well as #BlackLivesMatter and clubs across the league all backed the movement in a significant way.
When the Premier League’s Project Restart was in motion, all players and match officials took a knee before the first whistle in every game.
Other divisions and sporting codes have taken similar collective approaches and Boateng wants that energy to continue when Europe’s chief club competition returns on 7 August.
“I think it’s very powerful and very important that we continue this in the Champions League, especially of course in the final, because the whole world will look,” he said. “I think it’s important to continue, and also in other sports, and hopefully in some sports that are not back yet, hopefully they will join us.”
The defender, who is readying to face Chelsea at the Allianz Arena in the second-leg of the round of 16 tie with Bayern holding a 3-0 advantage, admitted there has been more awareness from his team-mates around every day issues that affect black people.
“We talked about it before our break, I talked actually to Joshua Kimmich and Leon Goretzka about it,” Boateng revealed. “They asked me how to support, how does it feel, what happened to me when I was younger. I could tell them my story, what were my experiences, and why is it so painful and hard to hear those things, or have those experiences. And then [I told them to] imagine people who are younger, maybe they face this for the first time, what you can do, how people can support it.
“There are some situations, of course, that are really hard to help, but you can always help in a situation. Of course, when it’s a group against one, and there’s nobody near, you never know, but if there’s somebody near, please call police, help, whatever, because that can help and save maybe a dangerous situation.”
Boateng does not believe German football is diverse enough off the field, but believes there is no such thing as adequate action to eradicate discrimination.
“I think about racism – you never can do enough as you see how bad it is still in the world right now,” he emphasises. “We can’t say, oh, this country or this situation, we’re doing enough – I don’t think so because if we were doing enough we’d not be in this situation still and talking about it. I am really clear about that and everybody has to know that this is not something that goes in a month.”