Maro Itoje questions the media over 'inconsistent' Marcus Rashford treatment
Maro Itoje on media treatment of Marcus Rashford: "Raheem Sterling highlighted these issues and inconsistencies with regards to reporting on black athletes compared to white athletes. [...] This is often the same when just reporting news and even the criminal justice system"
Last Updated: 20/11/20 6:24am
Maro Itoje has questioned the media over the treatment of Marcus Rashford following his work highlighting the issue of child food poverty.
Manchester United striker Rashford has drawn widespread praise for highlighting the problems facing underprivileged families, and getting the Government to back-track and announce free meals for disadvantaged children over the Christmas holidays.
Rashford's personal finances and investment choices were scrutinised in the media following his high-profile campaign over the past few months.
However, Itoje feels the 23-year-old's influential campaign has brought with it "inconsistent" media scrutiny compared to reporting on other white athletes.
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Ok, so let’s address this. I’m 23. I came from little. I need to protect not just my future but my family’s too. To do that I made a decision at the beg of 2020 to start investing more in property. Please don’t run stories like this alongside refs to ‘campaigning’. pic.twitter.com/coqla2i19d— Marcus Rashford MBE (@MarcusRashford) November 15, 2020
"The media arguably have a large responsibility more than most as they shape the public's views and perception. I have seen some of the stuff regarding Marcus Rashford and some of the brilliant things he is doing," he told Sky Sports News.
"It makes me ask some questions about what is the intent behind it. It's not the first time. Raheem Sterling highlighted some of these issues and the inconsistencies with regards to their reporting on black athletes compared to white athletes.
"This isn't just tabloid and sports media. This is often the same when just reporting news and even the criminal justice system. It is far and wide and an all-encompassing thing we need to try and get right."
'Values more important than symbolic gestures'
Itoje's team-mate Billy Vunipola was one of England's players who opted not to kneel ahead of games in support of the Black Lives Matter movement, after team leaders made it a personal choice for each individual.
Itoje feels the individual's personal values are more important than any symbolic gesture, and believes each player was made comfortable with their own personal decision.
"Symbolic gestures are important. If we look at history symbolic gestures have always been important in terms of showing a message that we stand against whatever," Itoje continued.
"The most important thing is to make sure we are putting things in place; we are through are own individual behaviours, through conversations that we are actually having. Being anti-racist and campaigning for a more equal society.
"While symbolic gestures are important the most important thing as a society and as a person we are living the values we claim.
"I think there has been a general awakening. A lot of people have thought about things like they haven't thought about things before but still have a long way to go. We're by far nowhere near the ideal society we want to have but if we can some make changes that will be a positive thing.
"I think we (sports athletes) do have a responsibility to try and create the type of world we want to see, to highlight things that aren't highlighted elsewhere. But it's not all on sports people. Joe Bloggs walking down the street equally has the responsibility to move this society to a more positive direction."
Former Manchester United striker Andy Cole echoed Itoje's feelings on the treatment of Rashford in the media, highlighting unfair scrutiny of his personal finances.
"He's inspirational for a lot of the younger generation coming up for what he's doing off the pitch, using his name in the right way. When all this other nonsense comes up and people are questioning him - 'why is he doing this? Why is he investing in this?'
"That is naughty, but that is the media for you. When somebody tries to do right, they will always try to find a way to [knock him]. That saddens me but if he continues to do what he is doing, he will grow as a footballer and individual.
"In football, you are always going to get that - you get yourself to a certain stage and make a name for yourself. The next agenda is how quickly can he fall back down again. Of course, you have to make mistakes when you are young.
"You should be taking your hat off to him, not looking at [how much he gets paid]. He's not doing it for his mates, he's doing it for the country. I don't actually understand. Why?"