Trent Alexander-Arnold and Dele Alli: Football's anti-racism voice can be 'massive'
Alli: "As players, we know we're role models to a lot of people"; Alexander-Arnold: "I hope this is the moment we see equality for every race, every gender, everything"
By James Dale
Last Updated: 05/06/20 2:41pm
Football's anti-racism voice can be "massive", say Trent Alexander-Arnold and Dele Alli, in what they hope will be a defining "moment in history".
The England internationals are united in their responses after the fury against police brutality towards African Americans was reignited when George Floyd, a 46-year-old black American, died when a white policeman knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes.
Nationwide protests in the US and across the world have followed, with many of sport's highest-profile figures breaking out of its often insular environment to speak out.
"As players we know we're role models to a lot of people," Alli tells Sky Sports News. "Football can be a massive voice. We're human like anyone else, and we feel pain just like anyone else.
"It's important to make it clear that everyone is hurting and this isn't something new. This is something people have been fighting for a very long time now. We're aware of that.
"With our platforms hopefully we can help out as much as we can."
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On Monday, Liverpool became the first Premier League side to take a knee in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.
Alexander-Arnold, 21, was one of the first to post the image on his social media with the message, 'Unity is strength'.
"I hope we are living right now in a moment in history that is massive," he says. "I hope this is the moment we see real change, and permanent change. I hope this is the moment we see equality for every race, every gender, everything."
There have been tributes and messages of defiance from across the Premier League. Tyrone Mings joined protests in Birmingham on Thursday. In Germany, Jadon Sancho revealed a 'Justice for George Floyd' T-shirt after scoring for Borussia Dortmund against Paderborn.
"You can see from the powerful messages from everyone - from people with massive platforms and the amazing amounts of numbers in protests - that a lot of people want change," says Alexander-Arnold.
"I think it's something that is vitally needed. It's been way too long, it shouldn't still be happening in the modern day."
Alli acknowledges racism remains a "touchy subject", but that it "needs to be out in the open".
"Now, whilst everyone is reacting, hopefully we can change for the better and have a positive impact, and as footballers try and help out as much as we can," he says.
'It is a really difficult time for people'
Both players are continuing to tackle social issues despite being back in group training with their sides ahead of the return of the Premier League from June 17. From Friday, they will take part in a FIFA20 tournament as part of a COVID-19 relief fundraiser, 'Gamers without Borders'.
"It's a really difficult time for people," says Alexander-Arnold. "We're going to play some games to try to raise money to give away."
Alli adds: "Trent knows PlayStation better than me but I think it's a great opportunity to give something back. I'm playing Paulo Dybala - if he's anything like he is on the pitch he's going to be a good player."
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The impact of coronavirus means the players will return to real life football without fans when the Premier League restarts behind closed doors.
"It will definitely be different," says Alexander-Arnold. "We train every day with no fans so I imagine we might be able to adapt quite quickly to it. The first game might be strange but we'll get used to it after then everyone will find it normal."
For Alli, there will not be any less of a competitive edge.
"Whatever we do it's built into us to want to win," he says. "It's great to play in front of your fans but everyone has still got a lot to play for."
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Liverpool need just two more wins - or one, if Manchester City lose their game in hand against Arsenal - to win the title.
"We're not training now just to hopefully cross the line, but to win every game we've got left," says Alexander-Arnold. "We've got nine games and we want to win them all - that's our aim."
Alli admits Tottenham's prospects "probably aren't as good as they are at Liverpool" with Spurs seven points off the Champions League places.
But the added rest time has allowed Harry Kane, Heung-Min Son and Moussa Sissoko to recover from injuries.
"I think if you asked anyone in our team, no one is happy with where we are and how we were playing before this happened," he says.
"But everyone has come back hungry and you can tell from the intensity in training that everyone has come back fit. We're the only ones that can turn this around."