News   |    July 21st, 2021


The death of George Floyd on Monday 25 May in Minnesota has dominated headlines globally and there continue to be protests, marches and vigils across the USA and internationally in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Anyone who has seen the video of police officer Derek Chauvin putting his full body weight across Floyd’s neck causing his death cannot fail to have been angered and upset by the video footage. I wonder without that video if justice would ever have been done? I have to say I doubt it judging by previous incidents in the USA.

Sporting icons like Anthony Joshua and Rio Ferdinand joined protests this weekend, and footballers both in matches and at training devised their own Black Lives Matter protests.

Speaking at the weekend Watford FC player Andrew Gray gave a telling insight into his experiences here in the UK. “I can’t even count the number of times I have been pulled over in my car by the Police. I have gone to a night club and not got in. The number of times a security guard followed me round a shop. I can’t count how many times that somebody has asked me if I’m a footballer because I’ve got out of a nice car. Look, at the end of the day, I’m three people in this country. And that’s either a footballer, a rapper or a drug dealer. These are the facts.”

Racism has no place today and every one of us has a role to play in challenging it. Challenging racism is certainly a value that all of us who work at Integral Sports Management espouse.

In 2010 I negotiated a takeover of Charlton Athletic FC and it was my recommendation to bring in popular former player Chris Powell for his first managerial role. Chris brought Alex Dyer as his assistant making them the only black football management team duo at the time in the EFL. In only his second season Chris won the League One Championship with a record 101 points and overnight he became an inspiration to black coaches. He deserved to be in that elevated place because he is one of the nicest people you could hope to meet and work with.

It surprised me how often Chris’s colour became a topic of boardroom conversation in visits to other clubs, and I was left with the clear impression that black coaches would struggle to get an interview at some clubs let alone secure a job.

It is sad that thousands of people in the country feel they must protest to make their point, but it is important such protests remain peaceful because violence serves only to undermine the message.

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Image from Getty Images.

Peter Varney - Chairman, Integral Sports Management

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