Lilian Thuram also knows what it is like to stand at the end of racism – and in an interview with Sports Illustrated’s Brian Straus published on Thursday, the legendary French player pointed to MLS’s Black Players for Change as a model that Europe would do well.
“When I played football and there was a racist incident in the stadium,” Thuram recalled, “when I went back to the locker room, some of the boys would often come by, the white boys would come by.” Tap the back and say “Sorry” or “Don’t worry about that.”
“I think, ‘This has to change.’ But even if the journalists said to me, “Oh, what do we have to do, Lilian? That has to change. What are we doing?” My attitude is, “Don’t ask me. I’m the person who gets this rude remark or what whatever it is. I’m the person taking this. Ask the white players. Ask the white players why they are not saying anything about it. Ask the white players what they are going to do about it. ‘”
Thuram concluded that Black Players for Change essentially got into shape last summer: Those who want change can’t wait for others to do it.
“People who suffered from racism couldn’t wait for someone to do something for them,” Thuram told Straus through a translator. “You did it yourself. You really need to be clear that you want change. You have to stand up and lead the change. “
Thuram founded a foundation that bears his name and works to combat racism, sexism, homophobia and discrimination through education. Last month, Thuram’s Justin Morrow and BPC (a Cleveland-born player who plays for Toronto FC) had the opportunity to socialize. When he found out what BPC is doing and achieving, Thuram was moved.
“I have been destabilized by Black Players for Change because I don’t think that something like that is accepted in France today,” Thuram said, noting that there is a culture in France and across Europe that keeps blacks from becoming too express.
“What Thuram sees in BPC is a proactive and courageous commitment to provide support and generate numerical strength,” wrote Straus in his article. “BPC, which now has more than 170 members, is proof that this is possible.”