Besiktas forward, Kevin-Prince Boateng, has asserted that he would have campaigned against racism the way legendary boxer Muhammad Ali did if he had the opportunity to play in the United States of America (USA).
The US is presently in a state of unrest following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis after a police officer knelt on his neck for several minutes with Mr Floyd having apparent breathing difficulties and passing away in hospital.
It has led to protests not only across the US but also in other parts of the world like the United Kingdom, France, Germany and even in African countries like Nigeria and South Africa.
Racism has been rife in football with Boateng and other several black players being victims.
“It is a difficult situation. Other than being sad, I am angry. It just hurts always coming back to the same feeling. It’s very difficult for me right now,” he told Sky Sports.
“[Completing a potential move to the USA to play in MLS] wouldn’t change a thing. I would be the same person. I would fight the same because I’m numb now. It hurts me but it doesn’t touch me now, I’m strong enough to deal with it.
“Maybe that would be the perfect thing for me to play there right now – to make a statement to give something back to show the people that I’m on the frontline, that I will be your front guy – I will be your Muhammad Ali.
“He always said ‘I will be there, I’m more than a boxer’. I want to be more than a boxer. There are hundred players better than me, faster than me, I will fight for something bigger.
“Even if I change two minds, three, one hundred – that’s in my power. America, Germany, Italy, France, England – everywhere there is racism so it doesn’t matter where I play. I will always play for the right thing,” he said.
Liverpool players recently stood on their knees in training in solidarity for Mr Floyd, while Borussia Dortmund players Jadon Sancho and Morocco international Achraf Hakimi wore shirts with inscriptions calling for justice for Mr Floyd in their last Bundesliga match.
Boateng made the headlines in 2013 while playing for AC Milan when he walked off the pitch after racist chants were hurled at him in a friendly game against Pro Patria. Boateng has been a campaigner ever since and says football isn’t doing enough to tackle the problem, insisting he would walk away from the pitch if he was abused again.
“I saw Liverpool kneeling and that is a good start to show that they are with us,” the 33-year old Ghanaian continued.
“In general what is football doing? Not a lot. An advert on television or a banner when the teams walk onto the pitch [is not enough]. It’s already late but it’s never too late, we just have to wake up.
“There’s always a little chain – we have to start to believe in what we are doing. People say it was a friendly game, but I didn’t care in that moment because it was something bigger inside of me. It wasn’t about the game. Even if it was a Champions League game I would have walked off.
“It’s not a discussion, it’s just if we’re strong enough, if we really want to change something, we have to take big measures.”
Boateng is on loan at Besiktas from Fiorentina. He has scored two goals in six Turkish Super Lig outings.
After two months of inactivity because of the coronavirus pandemic, football in Turkey will resume next weekend with Besiktas hosting Antalyaspor at Vodafone Park.