Raheem Sterling has been hailed as “an iconic British sports star” and “a trailblazer” after being named Sportsman of the year at the 2019 British Ethnic Diversity Sports Awards.
The England and Manchester City forward was praised for repeatedly speaking out against racism in football. He was presented with his award at a ceremony in London on Saturday.
“He is undoubtedly one of the UK’s most thrilling talents,” said awards founder Arun King from charity Sporting Equals. “He is a trailblazer in his fight against racism. We are proud that he has become an iconic British sports star representing so much for BAME communities and the entire sporting community. We will do for generations to come.” Sterling said the award was a “massive honor.”
The beds hosted by comedian Nish Kumar are organized by race equality charity Sporting Equals and celebrate ethnic diversity in sport. Ama Agbeze, the captain of England’s netball team, claimed the sportswoman of the year award. Agbeze, who made her international debut in 2001, helped England win gold at the Commonwealth Games on Australia’s Gold Coast in April 2018. Para-athlete Kare Adenegan, 18, was named young sportsperson of the year.
Adenegan, the 2018 BBC Young Sports Personality of the Year, set a world record in the T34 100m at the Anniversary Games and became European champion later in the year.
Former West Brom defender Brendon Batson, who also played for Arsenal and Cambridge and helped launch the Kick It Out anti-racism campaign, said he was “very flattered” after being honored with the lifetime achievement award. On Sterling, Batson added: “He’s a tremendous individual, one of the best players in the world at the moment, and we hope he has a very long career and success with England as well.” Sterling’s stance against racism
Sterling has become a figurehead for speaking out against racism in football and the portrayal of black footballers in the media.
After suffering alleged racist abuse from Chelsea fans during City’s 2-0 defeat at Stamford Bridge in December, the England international said in an Instagram post that he “had to laugh” because he expects “no better.” Following the incident, he also claimed that newspapers helped to “fuel racism” with their coverage of black footballers. He used an example of the differences in reports about team-mates Tosin Adarabioyo and Phil Foden buying houses.