Anichebe’s desire to improve BAME boardroom representation

Anichebe also discusses his hopes for improved societal stance towards equality; 32-year-old says he has ‘unfinished business’ in England

Last Updated: 18/08/20 11:14am

Victor Anichebe spent seven years at Everton, before moves to West Brom and Sunderland followed
Victor Anichebe spent seven years at Everton, before moves to West Brom and Sunderland followed

Former Everton striker Victor Anichebe has revealed his desire to buy a football club and improve Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) representation at boardroom level within the sport.

The lack of ethnic minority representation in positions of power across sports has come to light through the Black Lives Matter movement in recent months.

Anichebe, who also played in the Premier League for Sunderland and West Brom, believes black people are obstructed in their dreams of realising ambitions of holding top-level roles after Raheem Sterling called on English football to address the problem in June.

“We have to have a seat at the table to really effect change,” Anichebe told Sky Sports News.

“We can’t try and affect change from the outside and looking in. I have seen a couple of players say they want to become CEOs or sporting directors and I think that is what we need to do.

“We need to aspire to these positions. But also, when we aspire to these positions [we then need] to get an opportunity to be in these positions. All of us together have a big role to play.”

“Instead of wanting change, we can be the change ourselves”

Victor Anichebe

The 32-year-old has seen former Everton team-mate Tim Howard became a part-owner of English fifth-tier club Dagenham & Redbridge and United Soccer League side Memphis 901.

Speaking of his hopes for such an opportunity to present itself, Anichebe said: “I would like to go down that route of owning a team.

“I do have a group of people that are quite wealthy guys and together we could come together and go down that route.”

The former Nigeria international added: “I spoke to Tim Howard, who is part of a group that bought a club in America and they also own a club here [in the UK].

“I don’t see why we can’t all come together [as players] and buy clubs. I do think that is another way to really affect change. Instead of wanting change, we can be the change ourselves. We can place ourselves in those positions.”

Anichebe, who says he he has experienced incidents of racist abuse while playing both in England and abroad, attended a Black Lives Matter march in Liverpool and is encouraged by the common desire to improve equality.

“There is more anger,” Anichebe said when asked to describe the significance of the movement. “I just feel like people are not going to stop until change happens, whatever that looks like.

“I do feel like a lot of people want change, not just black people [but] I feel white people as well.”

However, he is aware action needs to be seen first before we can fully reflect on its impact.

“Right now it feels like we are loosing momentum.,” he said. “It feels like nothing is really happening.”

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Former Everton striker Victor Anichebe says conversation is vital in the fight against racism and that educating both children and their parents is required to provoke change.
Former Everton striker Victor Anichebe says conversation is vital in the fight against racism and that educating both children and their parents is required to provoke change.

Anichebe believes strongly that education and conversations between children and their parents is vital to enacting societal change.

“The first thing that we have to do is start educating. You look at some of the incidents that are happening where people are getting racist abuse online and it is crazy to see sometimes that it is [coming from] a young kid that is 11, 12 years old.

“That is not coming from nowhere, that is coming from somewhere. That is coming from hearing it, or the environment that they are in. I think that is a conversation that needs to happen.

“I don’t think the right thing is to ban the child either. Some people might be against me for saying that but I don’t think it is the right idea to ban the child.

“First there has to be a conversation between the child and maybe the player, if it was me I would meet with the child. People are not born racist so they can see that we are both normal [and] both the same.”

‘Unfinished business’ in England

Anichebe has not played competitive football in over two years since a brief spell with Chinese side Beijing Enterprise, but is open to another spell in English football.

Anichebe last played in English football for Sunderland
Anichebe last played in English football for Sunderland

A trial at League One side Doncaster Rovers – managed by former West Brom team-mate Darren Moore – failed to materialise on a contract last year, but Anichebe now says he is in the best shape of his career.

“I feel hungry to play but only if the right opportunity comes. I am working on a lot of other things right now but if the right opportunity comes then I would definitely play.

“Last year I trained with my friend Darren Moore at Doncaster. It was really good to be in and around [the team atmosphere].

“It took me about a week to get the fitness but I felt good. I am looking forward, if the right opportunity comes, to getting back into it.

“I have had a few options to go abroad but I feel I want to play in England. I feel like I have unfinished business in England. I would prefer to stay in England for another two years.

“Right now is the fittest I have ever been. We will see if a good opportunity comes and I’ll assess if I actually want to take it and we’ll go from there.”

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Source : Sky Sports