Troy Deeney has given an astonishing insight into the Premier League captains and executives meeting in which he had to intervene to force a conversation on football’s fight against racism.
The Watford captain has explained that the topic, written on the agenda for the meeting, was almost entirely overlooked because others on the call ‘didn’t want to provoke an uncomfortable conversation’.
Footballers have taken a united stance against racism following the murder of George Floyd in America last year, with players kneeling before games in support of Black Lives Matter.
Troy Deeney has revealed how the subject of racism was almost skipped in a top flight meeting
When the Premier League restarted amid the coronavirus pandemic, Jordan Henderson and Kevin De Bruyne were hailed for leading the way in shining a light on the subject.
The Manchester City star suggested having the name of the organisation printed on the back of shirts, while Liverpool’s skipper contributed the idea of having the BLM logo printed on shirt sleeves when football kickstarted again.
However, Deeney has lifted the lid on the first discussion surrounding football’s response to racism and has revealed that Project Restart talks almost ended without so much as a nod to the subject, only for Deeney and fellow captain Wes Morgan to force the issue after exchanging private messages.
Football has put on a united front against racism since its return last summer, in the wake of the murder of George Floyd in America
Recalling how he sent Morgan, skipper of Leicester City, texts during the meeting, Deeney told The I: ‘They weren’t even going to talk about it!
‘Not because they didn’t want to, but because it was a group of white men and women and they didn’t want to provoke that uncomfortable conversation.’
The 32-year-old subsequently sent Morgan a message that read: ‘Are these f***ers serious?!’ before telling the Jamaican defender: ‘I’m going, are you going to back me up?’
However, Deeney says he intervened in a meeting due to the topic being too ‘uncomfortable’ for white executives and captains in attendance ahead of Project Restart
Deeney spoke with Wes Morgan (R) during the meeting, who gave the Watford man his backing
After receiving Morgan’s support, Deeney told the group over Zoom: ‘Actually, I’ve got a huge problem. What do we think about this, why are we not saying this, why are we not doing that, why for the NHS do we do this, this and this but for race we can’t do that? Eight minutes later I’m like “that’s me done”.
‘Next thing you see, Kevin De Bruyne’s popped up, “Troy’s absolutely spot on, I’m with Troy”. Jordan Henderson, Seamus Coleman, before you knew it I had all the teams saying, “I’m with Troy.”‘
Deeney’s wife helped design the BLM badge that was emblazoned on shirt sleeves, and revealed that Sheffield United striker David McGoldrick suggested that players kneel before each game – a gesture that is still carried out before kick off.
The striker won the support of his many stars, like Jordan Henderson and Kevin De Bruyne
Henderson contributed the idea of a BLM logo on shirt sleeves, while De Bruyne suggested having the name of the organisation printed across the back of players’ shirts
The Englishman reflected that the anti-racism movement has picked up momentum thanks to the support of ‘middle-class white people’, insisting that the traction gained is due to people getting on board with Henderson and De Bruyne in forming a united front.
‘This time you’ve got the hearts and ears – and this is going to sound really bad – of middle-class white people. They’re now going: “Well that’s bang out of order.” That is what stokes change,’ he added.
‘If Troy and Wes Morgan spoke about it, it wasn’t going to happen. But when I got Kevin De Bruyne, Harry Kane, Jordan Henderson going, “We’re with Troy”, it made change.
The anti-racism movement has gathered momentum and Deeney says that is thanks to the support of high-profile names such as Henderson and De Bruyne
‘It needs everybody to pull together just like we did with the Super League. Look at [how] all the fans come together and it fell down like a pack of cards.’
English football clubs are joining forces to observe a social media boycott this weekend amid a surge of vile abuse being directed at black players throughout the season.
From 3pm on Friday until midnight on Monday clubs will not post on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter in protest over the racist, homophobic and abusive comments aimed at players.