On November 7 of last year, Manchester United visited Goodison Park to face Everton. The team won 3-1. After the game ended, one of their players, Marcus Rashford, received an unusual call. It was Boris Johnson, British Prime Minister. He wanted to discuss with the 22-year-old forward his plan to expand the UK children's canteen program during the autumn holiday period. Rashford had started a campaign in the spring so that the most disadvantaged children did not stop receiving these aid during the summer and had managed to get the government to revoke its initial decision to eliminate them in non-school periods. "I just had a great talk with the prime minister, it's time to collaborate," tweeted the English international after the conversation. Rashford's tenacity has benefited almost two million British children and, by extension, the entire football world, who have seen how this young man from South Manchester, from a working-class family and who came many mornings to train Without having breakfast, the soccer star's media profile has changed. English leads a new way of managing the influence that players have on society. They no longer just inspire hairstyles.
“I think Marcus's case reflects a more global change. Youth also have their ideas and these deserve to be heard. The scope of Marcus' campaign has been incredible and is a great example of what we can become off the field and how important it is to fight for what is worth fighting for. I hope that many more footballers will take a step forward in order to continue improving society ”, says Héctor Bellerín (Barcelona, 1995). The Arsenal defender has spent years building a profile that contradicts almost all the stereotypes that are held about the stars of the ball.
Bellerín is passionate about fashion, amateur photographer and activist. He has just released a collection of sustainable men's fashion together with H&M in which he has been involved in the entire design process, in addition to lending his image. He was also one of the first to invest in Forest Green FC, the most sustainable team on the planet and has even influenced his current club to borrow some ideas about vegan culture, ecology and sustainability from the small team he has put in. your money and your ideals. During the European Championship under 21 in 2017, the Catalan donated 57 euros for each minute played with the Spanish team to the victims of the fire in London's Grenfell tower . Some rival fans and even Arsenal fans still call her a "lesbian" in a pejorative way. “There have been many moments when I have wondered if what I was doing was the right thing to do or if I should just play soccer and that's it. But my vision has always been clear. Even if there are people who are not on your side, there are many others who you influence in a positive way and that should be what wins and unbalances the balance for the better. It has been frustrating in many moments, of course. When forced to choose, I have always chosen myself and not selfishly, but out of sheer honesty. I can't play a part off the field all the time. Although I am blamed more than others if we lose because of my tastes or how I express myself, the good moments continue to win, ”says Bellerín about an environment, that of football, which still seems to believe that being seen in a fashion show a Tuesday may be the cause of Saturday's defeat.
One of the most refreshing elements that these new attitudes bring to football is spontaneity. Social networks have allowed many footballers to express themselves without the mediation of the club, managing their controversies themselves and proposing the issues on which they want to open a debate. In this regard, the English footballer of Jamaican origin Raheem Sterling, currently enrolled in Pep Guardiola's Manchetser City, is paradigmatic. Through his Twitter, he has denounced racism in football and the media and, when he has been attacked by them, he has used that same channel to defend himself.
Sterling may be the only modern footballer who has intervened to clarify that he has less (no more) cars than the press suggests. “They took me out driving six different cars. They suggested that he collect them and take one out each day of the week. Those cars are the ones I bought between the ages of 17 and 23. I sold them. And when you sell a car, what do you do? You buy another, ”he told The New York Times. The same attitude of the English regarding the opulence that has accompanied the great football stars this century has had Oscar de Marcos, the Athletic Bilbao player , with respect to the almost always imposing and choreographed human face of celebrities. He spent years visiting the children of a hospital in Bilbao on Fridays without the press finding out. This management of the public and the private, in addition to the ability to communicate their thoughts by abandoning neutrality, is what makes all these players special. "If I say what I think, they put me in jail," replied another Athletic Bilbao footballer, Iñaki Williams , when asked for his opinion on Santiago Abascal at Salvados. Few times has the opinion of a footballer been so clear.