When Football Imitates Life

I usually do not agree with footballers using their platform to make political statements. The beautiful game should not be marred with politics. However, watching Bundesliga players make statements about the issues that are currently tearing my country apart with protests, riots, and more, was very powerful for me. The majority of Americans rarely agree on anything, and it is perhaps even more rare that the rest of the world has any respect for popular opinion here, either. Yet when multiple players made their own public statements about justice for George Floyd, it was one of those rare events where football imitates life.


For those who are unfamiliar with the current situation, last Monday, in Minneapolis, a black man called George Floyd was arrested under suspicion of using a counterfeit $20 bill. After being handcuffed, four white policemen used excessive force to further restrain him, despite his protests that he was struggling to breathe, apparently killing him. He was pronounced dead when he arrived at the hospital.

This immediately became a very inflammatory issue due to a constant stream of excessive force and violence from white police officers on unarmed black people here in America, some just in their early teens. Despite the “Black Lives Matter” campaign, which began in 2013, this same story keeps being replayed over and over again with new victims, and the officers involved never receive any substantial punishment, despite video evidence and witnesses. Despite the most aggressive officer in this case being arrested and charged with third degree murder, Americans of every race have reached a boiling point on this issue. We want justice.

Wearing your heart on your sleeve

It is painful to watch people protesting, rioting, and looting at a time when we still have stay at home orders from COVID-19. Yet it is very difficult to sit and watch this all-too-familiar story repeat itself with the loss of yet another life. So it was honestly very refreshing to see the message so many of us have etched on our hearts sent back to us from footballers in Germany this weekend.

On Saturday, Weston McKennie, an American who plays for Schalke, was seen sporting a “Justice for George Floyd” message on an armband in their match vs. Werder Bremen. While not surprising that he would support an American cause, had he played in Serie A, he would be fined and/or otherwise sanctioned for doing something like this. Particularly since the issue of racism is such an issue in Italy as well.

Actions speak louder than words

Marcus Thuram, son of French footballing legend Lilian Thuram, took a knee after scoring for Borussia Mönchengladbach on Sunday. This gesture was first made popular by NFL star Colin Kaepernick, who took a knee in protest of racial inequality during the playing of the United States National anthem, when it is customary to stand. Kaepernick effectively lost his job due to his protests. Let’s hope that the Bundesliga are more socially advanced.

During the Paderborn-Borussia Dortmund match, two of the scorers, English player Jadon Sancho and Morocco international Achraf Hakimi, revealed shirts that said “Justice for George Floyd.” Notably, Hakimi also displayed the hands-cuffed sign to show solidarity.


This has become a racial issue in America because of the shocking numbers of instances where white police officers killed or used excessive force against unarmed black people. The public outrage has unfortunately also made it a political issue, as well. However, at the heart of it all, it is a human issue. Whenever any group of people face mistreatment, inequality, or a lack of justice, then it reflects upon all of us as human beings.

One of the things I love most about football is that, apart from those few and horrible fans (looking at you, Inter and Lazio fans,) on the pitch, the footballers themselves are free from the racial inequality they sometimes face in real life. It is a beautiful wish that I have that someday, equality will be accessible to all, regardless of anything. While the messages from Germany caused me to reflect how football at times imitates life, let us hope in this circumstance that finally, life might actually imitate football.

This post inspired by the music of John Legend and Common’s “Glory”

When Football Imitates Life When Football Imitates Life Reviewed by Elaine on 12:01 AM Rating: 5
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