MANCHESTER, England (Reuters) - Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola said white people should apologise for the treatment of black people on a night when Premier League players wore the slogan “Black Lives Matter” on their shirts.
City and Arsenal players also took a knee with the referee before the kick-off of Wednesday’s game, following an identical gesture at the start of the match between Aston Villa and Sheffield United which marked the league’s return after a three-month absence due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“White people should apologise for the way we treated black people in the last 400 years,” Guardiola told a news conference after his team’s 3-0 win over Arsenal.
“I feel ashamed for what we have done for black people around the world, not just America, the problem is everywhere.”
Guardiola had addressed the issue in his pitchside interview with Sky Sports.
“We should send a thousand million messages for the black people. I’m embarrassed and ashamed of what the white people have done for the black people,” he said.
“Just because you are born a different colour of skin, how do people think they are different to the other one?,” added the Spaniard.
All the players’ names on the back of their shirts were replaced with the words “Black Lives Matter” as the league formally joined the international protest campaign sparked by the death last month of George Floyd, a black man, at the hands of Minneapolis police officers.
“All the messages are positive and we have to fight,” Guardiola said. “Everything we can do to make it conscious, it is not acceptable. We have to do a lot of things for the black people which we have not done so far.
“We have to do a lot of things for the black people which we have not done so far,” the Spaniard added.
City forward Raheem Sterling said he welcomed the pre-match show of support for “Black Lives Matter”.
“I see it as a massive step for the Premier League to allow something like that to happen and it shows we’re going in the right direction,” he said.
“Little by little we’re seeing change. It was natural, it was organic. We saw the teams do it in the earlier kick-off and thought it was something we had to do as well.”
Reporting by Simon Evans, editing by Ed Osmond