England and Manchester City forward Raheem Sterling has become an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honors for his relentless services to racial equality in sport.
Sterling, 26, has largely campaigned against racial injustice on and off the pitch since 2017.
In his reaction, Sterling said: “Receiving this honor is a fantastic feeling and a proud moment, not just for myself but for my family and friends.
“I am grateful to have been recognized but my priority is to try to help to educate society and myself. If it doesn’t start from within, then there’s no way you can help others. I’m learning every day.”
The English skipper has been a leading campaigner in the fight against racism and discrimination in sport.
Several times, Sterling had spoken out against the racist abuse he has received and has criticized the media’s portrayal of Black players.
In an interview with the BBC’s Newsnight program in 2020, he spoke of the need to fight racism, referring to the coronavirus pandemic.
“I know this might sound a little bit cheesy but the only disease right now is the racism that we are fighting,” Sterling said.
“This is the most important thing at this moment in time because this is something that is happening for years and years. Just like the pandemic, we want to find a solution to stop it.”
Sterling fronted the No Room for Racism campaign, to tackle racism in the Premier League.
He also went on to encourage players and fans to support a four-day boycott of social media in May, which still received racial slurs.
The need for change in the game and society has been recognized throughout the 2020-21 season, with teams taking a knee to highlight racial injustice.