How Kevin-Prince Boateng Ended Racism in Football
Kevin-Prince Boateng was playing a normal friendly game against Pro Patria back in January of 2013. He was going for a goal when the play was stopped. He heard racist chants and monkey sounds in the stands. In an act of anger and retaliation, he fired the ball into the stands. Many of his teammates began surrounding him, along with referees and officials. By a unanimous decision, the AC Milan team subsequently walked off the field in an act of protest (Our Champions). This began one of the most influential movements in football history. It has been about six years, and he is still dedicated to changing the culture and attitude of football. Because he took a stand against racist bigotry, Kevin-Prince Boateng is now seen as a hero for human rights.
When Boateng was 20, he didn't have a name for himself. His lifestyle was terrible. In an interview, he said, "Every night I was out until six. I was like 95 kilos, swollen from the drinking and bad food … I needed a clean break" (Lowe). This passage explains how he wasn't helping himself get a spot in a big team. He eventually reached a point where he had to make a change. Kevin-Prince began training every day. Consequently, big teams in pro football began noticing him. His choices in everyday life changed, "I started cooking; I wanted to eat healthily. From one day to the next" (Lowe). His life took off once he gained some speed. Even after he was signed to a team, he wasn't working hard enough. A former pro team director said, "Boateng was the one player he regretted signing, admitting he failed to spot a kid unprepared for the change or do enough to help" (Lowe). Furthermore, Boateng predominantly started his career when he took better care of himself and put true work ethic into the thing he loved to do.
Starting off, it was difficult for Boateng to get into a position he liked in football. He shows a glimpse into what goes on with the team. He says, "in the end, they don't really care how you feel, why you're sad or not training well" (Lowe). This excerpt opens up the truth about how pro soccer players genuinely feel about one another. Since Boateng was viewed as an underdog that didn't try hard, no one was nice to him. Nobody asked how he was doing, and they didn't care how he felt. This explains that Boateng had a hard time starting professional football because nobody was his friend. "I left my home, family, all my friends, then my ex-wife left me and I was totally alone" (Lowe). He had no motivation when he was starting pro football (Lowe). In general, Boateng had a very hard time starting his career in football because nobody was on his side.
The whole movement started in January of 2013 when Boateng went with AC Milan, his team at the time, to a friendly game against Pro Patria. About 20 minutes into the game, Milan was in possession. Boateng was running down the left sideline towards the goal and was winding up to take a shot when the play was stopped. Everyone on the pitch could hear a group of about 50 spectators shouting racial slurs and monkey chants. He swiftly grabbed the ball and punted it as hard as he could into the stands. The ball ricocheted off the guardrail, but it gave the fans a serious warning. He proceeded to start walking off the field. Over the next two minutes, everybody on the field started the walk with Boateng. It started with him, then grew and grew to every single person on the pitch (Our Champions). Boateng took the stand and walked off because, "I wanted to show the people that in this situation I don't want to play football anymore." (Our Champions). This interview sees Boateng himself explain that he had enough. Overall, Boateng took a stand against racism, and in return, he started a huge movement in the football world.
Boateng's actions gained worldwide attention very quickly. In a matter of months, he got the chance to meet and talk with the United Nations about how he is impacting the football society. He was lucky enough to meet with the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navanethem Pillay and Patrick Vieira, the former captain for the French national football team. Pillay said, "now-infamous incident, replayed on YouTube and on a huge overhead screen Thursday at the start of the hour-long U.N. discussion, shows the unfortunate continuation of deeply unpleasant acts during sport events, including during football matches" (The Associated Press). The trio gathered in a crowded panel in Geneva to give their thoughts on how to move forward. Pillay was very adamant about what should be done in the future when these events occur in football matches (The Associated Press). Boateng returned, "to the United Nations office in Switzerland for discussions on racism and human rights, five years after his first visit" (Taiwo). In summary, Boateng was able to have an open forum discussion with UN officials about how to end racism in football.
Boateng was crucial in the fight to end racism in football. He truly did something to make a change in the nature of the sport. An example of something that was a sham in soccer society was the Fifa anti-racism taskforce. "His speech drew parallels between racism and Malaria, likening it to a ‘dangerous and contagious virus' to be confronted and eradicated and warning it would not just go away. It has not – despite Fifa disbanding their anti-racism taskforce in September, declaring the mission accomplished" (Lowe). Sid references a different interview where he expresses how Fifa didn't finish the job by just dissolving the taskforce and announcing that they accomplished what they set out to do. Boateng was very disappointed when he heard that the taskforce was disbanded because there was so much more to do, "Racism goes beyond football, but football gives you the platform [but] then they close [the taskforce] for I-don't-know-what reason. All I know is I read it one day and I was shocked" (Lowe). In the text above, Boateng weighs into the facts and argues that there is still work to be done, in and out of football (Lowe). To sum up, Boateng was crucial in starting the movement against racism by protesting, speaking with the UN, and going public and articulating the truth of how much of an issue racism is.
Kevin-Prince Boateng is an avid activist against racism, especially in football. Kevin started the movement by a simple gesture in 2013 to end racism in football. He was the only one in the beginning, but his beliefs gained speed with football icons like Ronaldo and Ferdinand. His actions were bold and unprecedented, but they emphasized how serious and hurtful racism is. Instead of caving in and letting the racists hurt him, he pushed back and revolted. What we can learn from Boateng is that standing up for what you believe in makes you the better person. Power is the ability to act a certain way, and when something is stood up for, power rests in the hands of the brave, not the bigoted. Kevin is a hero because he stood up for what he knew was right. Still to this day, Boateng uses his voice and his large platform to spread not only awareness but to mentor and teach people to believe what they believe in and question what is questionable because it proves to be extremely vital and an amazing trait to have. Kevin-Prince Boateng remains a Human Rights Champion and is remembered as an icon because of his braveness.
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