Andre Gray: Footballers need to fight racism for others less fortunate than themselves
Gray: "I'm not here to fight for me and what I have to experience. I'm fighting for the younger generation and people who will have to deal with it a lot worse than I do."
By Adam Goodwin
Last Updated: 24/06/20 12:54pm
Watford striker Andre Gray believes footballers need to continue to speak up against racism in order to help people less fortunate than themselves.
The 28-year-old has continuously been one of English football's main voices in tackling racism, previously speaking about "systematic racism" across the world and the stereotypes surrounding black people in the UK.
Gray, who spoke exclusively to Sky Sports News' Aidan Magee, believes footballers need to help tackle racism - not for themselves - but for "normal" people who face discrimination.
"Us, as footballers, are in a very privileged position," Gray said.
"We don't experience as much [racism] as the normal black kid walking down the street. We're accepted in some sort of way because of our jobs.
"I'm not here to fight for me and what I have to experience. I'm fighting for the younger generation and people who will have to deal with it a lot worse than I do.
"I'm quite protected from it because of my occupation.
"There's more to it than me just saying it for my benefit, it's about trying to make a change for the younger generation, and the normal person walking down the street or applying for a job."
Speaking on the 'White Lives Matter Burnley' banner which was flown over the Etihad Stadium on Monday night, Gray says he's not surprised these incidents are still happening.
"It proved a point we've been trying to make for the last few weeks. It doesn't surprise me that these things happen," said Gray, who joined Watford from Burnley in 2017.
"It's now just been acknowledged more and we've seen it more. You only need to look at comments on certain posts to realise it really is a problem that needs addressing.
"If anything, it's just added fuel to the fire for what we're fighting for."
And when asked whether some people outside the BAME community have failed to understand what the protests are about, Gray responded: "Yes, exactly. Whether that's uneducated, ignorant or just pure racism. That banner [on Monday] was all of the above.
"People don't understand what it's about. It's not white versus black. It's not us being racist, whatsoever. We are just fighting for equality in different types of ways."
'We can't let this be another phase'
Gray has previously called on football's authorities to take racism more seriously after several Watford players received racist messages online after last year's FA Cup semi-final.
And he now says there needs to be more people from ethnic minorities in positions of power to ensure people are more educated on racial issues that happen in football.
He said: "We need to keep speaking about it and not let it be a phase like it has a lot of the time.
"I don't have all the answers. It's a difficult situation in terms of where to go and what's needed to change.
"The opportunities for black cultures need to change and we need to get more culture in higher positions in football, because I think the racism that happens on football fields hasn't been addressed properly and it's been brushed under the carpet.
"If you have someone higher up who's educated on these things, it can make a slight difference.
"It won't happen in the next year or two, it'll take time. We need to make small steps and keep pushing with it."