Allyson Swaby on Black Lives Matter, racial equality and her experiences of everyday racism
Allyson Swaby: "Moving forward people want to see plans of action, they don't want to hear 'I'm sorry' any more."
By Anton Toloui, Sky Sports News
Last Updated: 11/06/20 8:44am
Roma defender Allyson Swaby hopes football's decision-makers will hold "tough conversations" in order to eradicate the "absolutely ridiculous" practice of a player having to suffer racial abuse on three occasions before being allowed to walk off.
The death of George Floyd at the hands of police in Minnesota and subsequent protests have sparked calls for change around the world and Swaby wants football to do its part, starting with changing how racist incidents are dealt with.
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"It's absolutely ridiculous. This should have been a conversation that happened a long time ago, especially in sports," she says.
"We're in a really interesting position because now moving forward, these things are not going to be tolerated and it'll show the true colours of clubs and administrations about how they respond to these things.
"A little slap on the wrists isn't going to do it anymore, this is why the conversations are super important. What kind of protocols will be in place when there are racial incidents, what is going to happen? People like myself won't tolerate that, there needs to be action in place."
Swaby, who was part of Jamaica's squad at the 2019 World Cup in France, is now back at her home in Connecticut after the Italian season was halted due to the coronavirus pandemic.
She has seen thousands take to the streets in the USA to protest for change following the deaths of Floyd, Breanna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery.
It inspired Swaby to take to Instagram to detail the racism she faced from team-mates while at Boston College, a cause highlighted globally when her club Roma shared it with their 2,300,000 followers on Twitter.
"If you think racism only exists in the darkest of places... I'm sharing my story for you."@ASRomaWomen defender @allysonswaby10 with a powerful, personal message about the racism she has faced - and what we can all do to be better.— AS Roma English (@ASRomaEN) June 5, 2020
[Thread... 1/4] pic.twitter.com/0IRJN8eTYP
"A lot of people think racism is obvious and it's in your face all of the time, people disregard how covert it can be. A lot of the things I put in my post are things that happened to me with team-mates.
"They have no idea how deep they can cut. 'I have a black friend' and 'I know black people' isn't enough to make yourself exempt from what's going on.
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"I was happy I was able to open the door to conversations with people to show it isn't always so obvious."
Swaby has seen sportspeople in the US lead the way in the Black Lives Matter movement, something she hopes will result in direct action as opposed to a lot of apologies.
"I see a lot of athletes stepping up and clubs stepping up. Look at the NBA and WNBA, these are heavily skewed towards having black athletes and you can see the discrepancies in the players and senior management.
"You see the NFL saying they were wrong on the stance they took, that's a huge step, but moving forward people want to see plans of action, they don't want to hear 'I'm sorry' any more.
"We've gotten the apologies out of the way, now it's about how we can move forward to create and stimulate change."
Just as with the WSL in England, a decision was taken this week to end the women's Serie A season too. Although Swaby admits she understands why the season has been curtailed, she also sees it as another example of inequality in sport.
"You can see there are still discrepancies in us not being able to complete the season and the men being able to complete the season and that's something that's super disappointing.
"We thought we'd taken steps forward but again our eyes are opened to how there's inequity amongst the men and female players and we see there's a long way to go with that.
"I don't know how long it will take, how many seasons, if I'll still be playing when we feel like we've reached parity but I just feel I've seen great growth during my time as a professional athlete and my time prior to college.
"The growth in the last three or four years has been tremendous but, obviously, coronavirus has put a delay the positive things that have been happening."
Swaby admits 2020 hasn't played out like she'd expected but hopes the second half of the year will see the push for social change become a reality.
"I want to see these things continue," she says. "We're on the 15th night of protests and people are freaking out and wondering 'will this momentum continue?' so for me, the rest of 2020 looks like we need to make sure these conversations are still happening.
"As for football, I see 2020 back in Rome and we're picking things up where we left off."