Union Berlin’s Anthony Ujah calls on players to fight racism

Sports

FILE – In this Saturday, Dec. 13, 2014 file photo, Cologne’s Anthony Ujah from Nigeria, front, and Schalke’s Dennis Aogo challenge for the ball during the German Bundesliga soccer match between FC Schalke 04 and 1. FC Cologne in Gelsenkirchen, Germany. Union Berlin striker Anthony Ujah has encouraged his fellow German soccer league players to be more proactive in the fight against racism. Ujah was the first Bundesliga player to react on social media to the killing of George Floyd, a handcuffed black man, who died on May 25 after a white Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee for several minutes on his neck. (AP Photo/Martin Meissner, File)

BERLIN (AP) — Union Berlin striker Anthony Ujah has encouraged his fellow soccer players to be more proactive in the fight against racism.

“When I look at a player like Thomas Müller, who means so much to the Germans, then even one (social media) post from him is a strong statement,” Ujah wrote in a guest editorial in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper on Saturday.

“Everybody in the world of soccer knows who Thomas Müller is. And every child who wants to be like Thomas Müller, or like Manuel Neuer or Joshua Kimmich, and who follows their idol on social media can see where the stars stand.”

Müller, a forward for Germany and Bayern Munich, posted a tweet on Thursday in which he made his statements against racism.

“The signal should be that it doesn’t matter how we look or how we speak. I don’t know how to explain, but sports has the power to bring people together,” Müller said in a video that also showed other Bundesliga players’ gestures last weekend.

Ujah was the first Bundesliga player to react on social media to last month’s killing of George Floyd, a handcuffed black man, who died after a white Minneapolis police officer pressed his knee for several minutes on his neck.

Others, including American players Weston McKennie, Zack Steffen and Tyler Adams also expressed solidarity with social media posts and/or on-field statements.

In 2014, Ujah also protested the death of another black man, Eric Garner, who died after a police officer placed him in what appeared to be a chokehold. Garner said, “I can’t breathe”, before he died, words repeated by Floyd on May 25.

“If I manage to get just five or 10 people to change their way of thinking about me, then I’ve fulfilled my role,” Ujah wrote. “Anything that someone does is better than doing nothing.”

The 29-year-old Nigerian said he was fully concentrated on Union’s goal of achieving Bundesliga survival, but that if he scores against Schalke on Sunday, “I have the chance for my campaign. That’s how I did it in the past and that’s how I will continue to do it in the future.”

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Ciarán Fahey on Twitter: https://twitter.com/cfaheyAP

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