You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

England rugby star Maro Itoje slams coverage of black players who are judged by 'power and speed' rather than skill… and reveals he would not take his kids to watch football because of 'disgraceful' behaviour in the stands

Daily Mail logo Daily Mail 19/06/2019 Tom Bevan For Mailonline
(Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images for Gallagher) © Getty (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images for Gallagher)

England rugby star Maro Itoje has opened up about racism in sport and says black players are judged by 'power and speed' - and not skill.

The Saracens lock says 'subtle racism' results in players being judged to different standards based on their colour.

__________________________________

You may also like:

Jess Ennis-Hill: Pregnant athletes need more support [Sky News]

England goalkeeper Telford on how Neville became her 'father figure' [Independent]

Women who are facing a big summer of sport [Read Sport]

__________________________________

He said black players are routinely being pigeon-holed for a lack of skill and being 'all pace and power.'

Itoje also backed footballer Raheem Sterling in highlighting the difference between how rich black and white sportsmen are represented.

Itoje completed a successful season with Saracens by winning the Premiership and the European Cup © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Itoje completed a successful season with Saracens by winning the Premiership and the European Cup

This includes their portrayal when splashing the cash to buy their parents a home - one being described as a 'lovely' act, the other being 'flashy and overpaid.'

Itoje was speaking in a candid podcast interview with Alastair Campbell, the ex-Downing Street Press Secretary, and his daughter Grace, a comedian and activist.

The podcast, titled 'Football, Feminism and Everything in Between', is available on Wednesday.

a man throwing a ball: Itoje also backed England footballer Raheem Sterling in his fight against racist attitudes © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Itoje also backed England footballer Raheem Sterling in his fight against racist attitudes

Itoje said: 'This is not just about sport. This covers how black people are portrayed in any kind of news, there is always a difference.

'When they report a murder of a white male, it's a teenage boy from a loving family in the suburbs, brutally murdered. When it's a black boy murdered, he was "wearing a hoodie".

'It's the same in punditry - a lot of the time when they describe black players they talk about athleticism, their power, their speed. They don't talk so much about their skill, their deft touch.'

Itoje says he encountered no racism while studying at Harrow and had 'not really' experienced it on or off the pitch as a player, but he has caveats. 

'My experience is not the typical experience of a black man in London because sport is one of the few disciplines or institutions based on merit - (it) should be anyway.'

a group of people posing for the camera: Itoje was speaking on a podcast with Alastair Campbell (right) and his daughter Grace © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Itoje was speaking on a podcast with Alastair Campbell (right) and his daughter Grace

And, though he 'can't easily recall' direct racism from opposing fans, he added: 'Racial abuse on the field I have not personally had but I have friends who have, in county rugby growing up.

'I know someone who was abused racially in the Under-20s World Cup, so that problem is not fully stamped out.'

Asked if he would ever consider walking off the field of play if he did encounter the kind of abuse Sterling had, Itoje said: 'I am caught between two minds - nobody should be made to play in front of abusive fans.

'But I am also thinking one, show them; and two, do they win if you walk off?'

a football player on a field: Itoje on the charge for club Saracens during the Premiership rugby final against Exeter Chiefs © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Itoje on the charge for club Saracens during the Premiership rugby final against Exeter Chiefs

It is partly crowd behaviour, as much as the fact that rugby has become his life and career, that ended his love affair with football - that and the realisation that he was 'wasting too much emotional energy' on Arsenal.

He added: 'I was taken aback by the way the fans behaved, towards each other, towards the players.

a rugby player with a football ball: Itoje is tackled during England's international with South Africa at Twickenham in November © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Itoje is tackled during England's international with South Africa at Twickenham in November

'If I had children, unless I had a box I would not take my child because the behaviour was disgraceful. I saw little kids, 12, 12-year-olds, watching their parents swearing, abusing Arsene Wenger, abusing the players.

'This small boy sees his father do it and so he does it, starts spouting abuse at players, at opposing fans. Horrible.'

MSN are empowering Women In Sport this summer. Find out more about our campaign and the charity fighting to promote the transformational and lifelong rewards of exercise for women and girls in the UK here.

Related: Rugby's most controversial moments [Read Sport]

AdChoices
AdChoices

More From Daily Mail

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon