Troy Deeney: We’ll keep taking the knee until change comes and when change comes, that’s when we’ll stop
NOT long after George Floyd was murdered and the world was in uproar, the 20 captains in the Premier League and five or six officials had a final Zoom meeting about Project Restart.
There were six items on the agenda and the sixth was ‘Race and our stance on it moving forwards’.
I texted Wes Morgan, the Leicester captain, and said it would be interesting to see how the league approached that. Then about a week before we went back, there was this one last Zoom call.
Wes and I texted as the meeting was happening. The final point on the agenda was racism.
But as we got to it, it felt like the meeting was being wrapped up.
I texted Wes: “Are these guys serious?”
So I unmuted myself and went off on my rant.
I said we had a big platform and a big opportunity.
I thought this was a time, especially when racial abuse of our own footballers was on the rise, when we needed to make a stand.
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I said I felt ashamed we weren’t even talking about it. Some of the officials got a bit jumpy.
I spoke for about eight minutes and then I took a deep breath and muted myself. There were an awkward few seconds where I thought, ‘F***, I wonder how that’s going to go down’.
Then Seamus Coleman jumped in and said he thought it was something we needed to do and Everton would support it.
Kevin De Bruyne said: “I’m with Troy.” Jordan Henderson said: “I’m with Troy.” Everyone joined in.
I went from nervousness to being proud. All these guys had been thinking it, but I had articulated it.
I managed to get a couple of tickets for the Euro 2020 final.
I noticed a change in atmosphere long before we parked the car.
All the excitement and the fun of this wonderful tournament, all that post-lockdown sense of release and the, ‘Yay, it’s coming home’ stuff had curdled into something much more aggressive.
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The atmosphere outside the stadium was feral. Bottles were flying.
People were being drenched in beer. There were flares and smoke.
One of the things that I found interesting was how many people were using drugs openly, snorting cocaine off whatever surface they could find.
All of them, as far as I could see, were either young or middle-aged white men but when I looked for the horror and the outrage about that the next day, I couldn’t find it.
I’m sorry if this offends you, and I’m sorry if you think it’s a marginal point, but I think the reason why the issue was not highlighted was because the people doing it were white.
If they had been young and middle-aged black men, it would have been presented as more evidence of the decay of black society.
The aftermath was predictable.
I had expected Jadon Sancho, Marcus Rashford and Bukayo Saka to be racially abused on social media.
Racism was suppressed for a while, but it was only hiding underground.
Now racists are brave enough to come out into the daylight again.
We’ll keep taking the knee until change comes and when change comes, that’s when we’ll stop.
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