• Saturday, August 13, 2022

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Former England centre Luther Burrell wants racial ‘banter’ to be addressed

“There are numerous players in numerous environments who have experienced it. I could say nothing and carry on as normal, but it needs to be spoken about” he said

Luther Burrell (Photo by Harry Trump/Getty Images)

By: Kimberly Rodrigues Kumar

Racism is “rife” in rugby and racist “banter” has become “normalised” among team-mates, Burrel, 32, told the Daily Mail in an interview. “Things are said in the changing room that shouldn’t be said.”

“A lot of it doesn’t come from a bad place but that doesn’t make it OK. A lot of what’s said isn’t even malicious, but it’s become normal and it needs to be addressed,” Burrel said.

He was also quoted as saying, “It’s a touchy subject and I’m scared how people will receive it, but in the grand scheme of things why should I care?

“It’s factual. I love our sport and I want to see it move forwards.”

Burrell, who won 15 caps for England between 2014 and 2016, believes “maybe it will empower the next generation to call it out and force change.” He said, he will “never name names but it’s gone on for too long.”

The former Northampton player said he has been on the receiving end of comments about slavery and bananas. Discussing WhatsApp messages, he has received from team-mates and comments made at training, including being called by a racially offensive term, he adds: “Things get said in jest without any thought. I’ve heard things that you wouldn’t expect to hear 20 years ago.

“It’s normalised because I allowed it to become normalised. I’d laugh it off. I’ve been a coward by not speaking up.”

Rugby Football Union (RFU) chief executive Bill Sweeney said he had spoken to Burrell and the governing body was “disturbed” and “apologised” for his experiences.

In a statement, Sweeney is quoted to have said, “we are disturbed that this has been Luther’s experience and we applaud him for speaking out, racism in any walk of life is not acceptable.”

He further added, “we apologize to Luther and all of those who have experienced any form of discrimination and will continue to work to eliminate it from our game.”

Simon Massie-Taylor, Premiership Rugby chief executive, added: “Whilst there is a lot of positive activity in the area of equality, diversity and inclusion this is a reminder of how far we still need to go.”

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