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making a change In conversation with Micah Richards as he launches his new documentary 'Tackling Racism'

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Former Manchester City player Micah Richards is to present a TV documentary about racism (Joe Buckle/PA)

Former Manchester City player Micah Richards is to present a TV documentary about racism (Joe Buckle/PA)

Former Manchester City player Micah Richards is to present a TV documentary about racism (Joe Buckle/PA)

Since retiring from football in 2019 after a career that included Premier League title success with Manchester City, Micah Richards has proved to be a popular addition to Sky Sports’ punditry panel. Now the former Manchester City and Aston Villa defender is fronting a documentary called ‘Tackling Racism’.

In a wide-ranging interview ahead of the airing of the documentary, Richards spoke a number of topics, including his own experiences and where the sport is at in terms of tackling racism. He also discusses taking the knee in light of the Black Lives Matter movement

There’s a part in the documentary where you talk about managers and how it can be harder to relate to somebody who is not from your background. Is that something you experienced during your career?

When I was a kid growing up, all I wanted to do was play football. You don’t actually take notice until you’re in the media and you look at the numbers and you think ‘wow, these are incredibly bad’. I spoke to various black and mixed-race ex-players and they say “what’s the point, we’re not going to get a job?” In terms of management, I never realised it was so bad until I came into the media, to be honest.

Are you worried that when fans get back, are you worried what the response will be to taking the knee?

I think they should still kneel. You might not be able to change older generations’ opinions, but you can change future generations opinions. You see kids in Sunday League football now and they’re asking questions. They’re learning about it, and that’s the important bit that I think some people are missing. I am worried, but I think we should make it clear before games ‘this is why we are kneeling’ and then I don’t think you would get the boos.

The abuse you got on Instagram that you showed in the show was shocking. Did you have any response from Instagram and Twitter the way you did from Facebook?

The problem we have is because there are so many cases, it is very hard to pick up every single one. They are doing a lot, but they need to be doing a lot more. They did answer a lot of the questions I had, but they didn’t have all the answers. They are doing a good job, but they are not doing a great job and that is the problem. In terms of response, I am going to speak to them after the documentary to see what measures they are taking. There’s nothing we can do, it is down to the platforms.

In the documentary, Gary Neville spoke about when Raheem Sterling approached him during Euro 2016. Do you think it would be different now?

I think Gary Neville was sensational. He was put in a situation where he didn’t know what to say or how to act. I commend him for speaking so openly and honestly about it. Moving onto Gareth Southgate, you speak to the players and how there’s an incident and a racial issue how well he deals with that. I can’t speak highly enough of him as he’s a white man but he’s still at the forefront. Capello resigned from England because they stripped John Terry of the captaincy because of the situation with Anton Ferdinand. I lost a lot of respect for him in that situation.

Chris Hughton said we ‘lost a generation’ of black players from the management game. Are you optimistic that we won’t lose another generation of black players and managers?

I don’t want tokenism. I don’t like the Rooney Rule because you have to interview a certain number of people. If a white person is better for the job, they get it. If a black person is better for the job, they get it. I only came into the media because a kid said to me because a kid said to me ‘don’t worry about all the negative stuff, you’ve been a great player throughout your career’. I think there is hope, but you’ve got to be realistic.

What can be tangibly done on social media?

When I was speaking to Kick It Out, a lot of the guys that go through the rehab program don’t even know the meaning of the word that is being said. You can change the younger generation and that is the market we need to be aiming at. We shouldn’t be using the 'n word' and I say it in the documentary because I want people to squirm. On social media platforms, you should not be able to write it. You wouldn’t be able to walk into work and use that word so why should we allow it on social media?

Have you got any experience of a white player offering some kind of comfort to you?

Any time anything had happened to me or there had been a situation, Joe Hart would always be the first to text me saying ‘are you alright?’ It’s so nice to have that support because he can’t understand, but he’s trying to understand. He was going through a bad time in his career and he actually started thinking about wider issues. He asked me how it made me feel. He couldn’t believe that he had not asked about it sooner but now he understands and he wants to understand

Micah Richards: Tackling Racism in Football is available on Sky Documentaries and NOW TV from Monday January 25th at 9pm.

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