KOCHI: 'Never have I seen anything like what is happening in the league these days', said former English goalkeeper David James referring to the sight of players kneeling down in support of the Black Lives Matters movement.
James, who has represented eight English clubs and played for over two decades in the English Premier League said, "When we came back to play or watch Premier League, I had a feeling it was only gonna last for that first week or so and then it would be an obligation achieved. But the fact that it's still going on, is a great testament to the momentum. The most important thing is that this is something that the players wanted to do".
Speaking to the New Indian Express, he said "The Premier League has resisted any kind of, dare I say political stands, with regards to backing or dismissing anything. The closest I got is wearing a poppy for the Remembrance Day, but that's not a political thing. So, for the Premier League to allow what essentially is a political slogan and (get) the backing of the players or request the players is also very significant."
The movement which was fueled by the murder of an unarmed Black man George Floyd in the hand of white cops, has found support from almost the entire world of sport, from Formula One to cricket.
The likes of Lewis Hamilton and Michael Holding have spoken against racism. Hamilton even went to the extent of saying that he will fight racism for the rest of his life.
James says he also wants to use his status to bring about a change in society. "When you are in a position of influence, if you are a sports star, then you have some influence over your followers. I'm saying this because I'm doing this myself. I've spoken to the London Mayor's office about how I could help them in dealing with some of these issues. It is a case of, I'm a guy who played football and still gets recognised by it. If there is some way that you can use me, to help the issue, then I'm all for it," said James.
The former Kerala Blasters coach wants to focus on equality. He cites the example of Thangboi Singto, his assistant at Blasters, to drive home his point.
"I've always fought for equality in every department. Going back to India, one of the things that got me with the ISL is why an Indian coach is not allowed to manage an ISL team. It's ridiculous. Thangboi was with me in Kerala and I tried to get him to do more than he wanted to do because I didn't want it to be where foreign guys come over and tell you how to play football in India. The equality there was for Thangboi to be equal in everything we did and not just because he was an Indian who happened to be there because of the league rules," he said.