Jamaican international football player Raheem Sterling has been honored by Queen Elizabeth II for his work to promote racial equality in the sport.
On June 11, the Manchester City and England forward was named in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list, which rewards individuals’ bravery, service, or achievement in their fields.
The 26-year-old, who has been heavily involved in anti-racism and anti-discrimination campaigns, has been made an MBE (Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire).
The MBE is an order of the British Empire award. It is the third highest-ranking Order of the British Empire award. It is also awarded to someone for making a positive impact in their line of work.
The Jamaican-born footballer responded to the announcement, saying that he was grateful to be recognized.
“I am grateful to have been recognised, but my priority is to try to help to educate society and myself,” Sterling said. “If it doesn’t start from within, then there’s no way you can help others. I’m learning every day.”
Sterling, a Premier League and League Cup winner with City this season, has been subjected to racial slurs in stadiums and online since the start of his career.
In 2019, he took part in an anti-racism campaign, “No Room For Racism”. He was subsequently awarded The Integrity and Impact Award at the BT Sport Industry Awards for speaking out on a range of social issues, including racism, that same year.
During the height of the Black Lives Matter protests in 2020, following the death of George Floyd, Raheem Sterling was also one of the English Premier League players that replaced their names on their soccer jersey with the racial justice logo “Black Lives Matter.”
The award comes just days after England players were booed by fans for taking the knee to protest against racial injustice before friendly matches ahead of Euro 2020.
Sterling expressed “real disappointment” that some fans have not understood the reasons behind it.
The Queen’s Birthday Honors List includes 262 people, many of whom have been recommended for coronavirus-related activities.