Manchester City star Raheem Sterling has been made an MBE in the 2021 Queen’s Birthday Honours.
The Blues forward receives the honour after fronting anti-racism and discrimination campaigns and speaking out strongly against racism on and off the pitch for several years.
Sterling, 26, has been subjected to vile online abuse throughout his career for both club and country, as well as from fans in the stands.
In autumn 2019, Sterling took part in an anti-racism campaign, No Room For Racism, involving the Premier League, the Football Association, the EFL, the Professional Footballers’ Association and anti-racism campaign group Kick It Out.
Last summer, as the Black Lives Matter movement gained traction following the murder of George Floyd in the US, Sterling said “now is the time to act” on racism.
He was one of several England players to appear in a video campaign calling for change as a result of the movement.
Speaking about why England players will again take a knee in the upcoming Euro 2020 finals, Sterling expressed “real disappointment” that some fans have not understood the reasons behind it and booed the gesture at recent games.
Earlier in May, the Football Association called on the Government to introduce legislation to compel social media companies to do more to stop online abuse.
That followed a four-day social media boycott which saw football organisations, clubs, players, other sports stars, major businesses and media outlets fall silent in protest.
Within 48 hours of the boycott coming to an end, Sterling had been racially abused on Instagram.
Troy Townsend, head of player engagement at Kick It Out, football’s equality and inclusion organisation, said: “Raheem Sterling has been a great advocate for equality in football. He has spoken openly and honestly about racism, including his own personal experiences.
“He has used his platform and profile in a really positive way to try and affect the change that is required. The honour he is receiving is very well deserved.”
Sterling’s England teammate, Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson, has also received an MBE for services to football and charity, particularly during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Off the field, he also had a leading role in the #PlayersTogether initiative, which was announced in early April last year at the height of the coronavirus pandemic which saw football and other sports all come to a halt.
Premier League captains worked together to help establish a joint contribution fund which was directed to the NHS Charities Together group for distribution to good causes working to provide support to NHS staff and patients.