Culture

How Héctor Bellerín & Others Have Approached the #BLM Conversation On & Off the Field

Lead Photo: Instagram: Hector Bellerin.
Instagram: Hector Bellerin.

Worldwide protests against police brutality and racism show no signs of slowing down, and players across leagues are using their platforms to show their support.

In a recent video snippet, Newcastle’s American defender DeAndre Yedlin joins Arsenal right-back Héctor Bellerín for an open discussion about racism in the United States.

Yedlin admitted he had been quiet on social media but was shaken by a text from his grandfather, which he shared on Twitter. His grandfather was glad he was away in England, Yedlin shared, as he’d feared for his life as a young Black man if he were living in the U.S. Yedlin is one of two American players in the Premier League.

He and Bellerín riffed back and forth throughout the recorded conversation, criticizing Donald Trump’s lack of leadership and incoherent babbling. “It’s a shitshow” Yedlin uttered at one point. “He’s the worst possible person we can have in a situation like this.”

Bellerín, who is originally from Barcelona, has been vocal about social issues throughout his career. He is an avowed vegan, plastic hater and mental health advocate. In 2018 the Spaniard also supported his teammate Mesut Özil’s retirement from the German national team after he faced xenophobia from the stands. Özil is of Turkish descent.

“This is an issue that involves everyone, it’s important that as people of privilege we do anything we can,” Bellerín said.

This was not the first show of support for the BLM movement from the league across the pond. Social media has been the preferred route, but in a meeting on Tuesday, the Premier League’s 20 captains said they intended to show support for the Black Lives Matter movement when the league restarts on June 17. Plans to honor the work of the United Kingdom’s National Health Service employees through the pandemic were already in motion, and the players, including Bellerín, spoke about wanting to support BLM. It remains unclear what that may look like.

In the meantime, league leaders, Liverpool, took a knee at Anfield. Yedlin’s squad joined him and took a knee on the grass at their practice site in the North. Bellerín posted a shot of him and other Arsenal teammates taking a knee at the Emirates as well.

Instagram: Héctor Bellerín.

While anti-racism campaigns have become standard in most—if not all—leagues around the world including the Premier League, it has preferred to remain largely apolitical. In 2018, while Spain endured a constitutional crisis when Catalonia declared independence, Pep Guardiola was fined $25,000 for wearing a yellow ribbon on his sweater in support of the region. Still, it is unlikely the national body will take issue with the player’s decisions in this case being that FIFA—the international governing body—has advised they support the decision, according to The New York Times.

The first soccer players to show their support for the movement were in Germany, where league plays officially resumed on May 16. American midfielder Weston McKinnie, who is Black, wore an armband with the phrase Justice for George Floyd.

“I think he is ignorant in my eyes, you can call him racist,” the Texas native said about Donald Trump in an interview with AS.

That same weekend, Borussia Dortmund duo Jadon Sancho and Achraf Hakimi celebrated goals by exposing their yellow undershirts, scrawled with “Justice for George Floyd” in Sharpie. Meanwhile, Eintracht Frankfurt debuted jerseys with #BlackLivesMatter emblazoned on its chest during Wednesday’s loss to Bayern Munich.

“I think this is a tipping point,” Yedlin told Bellerín. “I really do.”