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Marcus Rashford and Raheem Sterling changing perceptions of race, says Ian Wright

Ian Wright
Ian Wright has marked Black History Months with a short film alongside his son and grandson

Raheem Sterling and Marcus Rashford have changed how black footballers are viewed, says Ian Wright.

England forwards Rashford and Sterling received MBEs for services to children and equality respectively.

Wright praised them but added that they can’t fight the racism battle alone.

“It’s people like Marcus Rashford, he changed the course of how people write about black players, and Raheem Sterling – that’s power,” said the former Arsenal and England striker.

“They’re not only magnificent footballers, they’ve got social conscience and they’ve got massive platforms where when they say something, people listen, and that’s what happens nowadays,” he told the Press Association.

“And what you see is everybody comes together when this happens now and this is how things change. Things are moving, not as quickly as they should be, but they are moving.

“Things only change when white people get involved. If it was down to black people, we would still be (constantly) being racially abused. We can’t change it alone.”

Manchester United’s Rashford has campaigned to end child food poverty in the UK, with his work for the provision of free school meals in England during holidays and other support to low-income families prompting major changes in government policy.

Manchester City’s Sterling has spoken about the racial abuse he has had to face, on and off the pitch, and campaigned for racial equality.

Match of the Day pundit Wright, 57, wants to see greater black representation but points out the impact of “white allies”, and cited Rangers boss Steven Gerrard and Burnley captain Ben Mee, who have both spoken out on racism.

“We still need black people to get into certain offices high up to make change – and that’s still not happening because if it was we wouldn’t be going through certain things that we’re going through now,” Wright continued.

“But at the same time, people like Steven Gerrard and Ben Mee and white allies who speak up and speak up passionately about the wrongs of racism and inequality is how things change, how things move.

“That’s how people change what they feel, that’s how you make them think, their conscience.”

As part of Black History Month, Wright has produced a short film with son and former Manchester City winger Shaun Wright-Phillips, 39, and grandson D’Margio, 20, who plays for Stoke City, celebrating three generations of footballing excellence.

“To have three generations playing football is amazing, I’m very proud of that, I’m very proud of them,” Wright added.

“(But) one of the things I think about all the time is the racism side of it. Three generations, are we all going to have it?”

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