Prince William was famously keen about “solving” racism in football for a time. He’s the Football Association president, which means “going to football games” counts as work for him. Lightweight, but sure. In any case, William used his position to try to talk about mental health in football, and racism in football (and the combination of both). What did William actually do? He did some events where he hung out with footballers – exclusively white footballers – and he once said that he’s “bored of racism.” He seemed to believe that if he just came out and said “stop being racist,” that would solve everything. It did not. His lack of real work on the issue blew up in his face last year, when Italy beat England in the Euros, and British people began hurling racist abuse at the young Black footballers on the team. You would think, hey, maybe William should do something specific and public to show that he’s an ally, that he’s standing up for Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka publicly. Nope.
William has done another keen interview with footballers, but he made sure to only speak to two white footballers, Harry Kane and Declan Rice. Now, the host of this show, Game of Fives, is Kelvyn Quagraine, a Black man. Considering the topic is “mental health in football” and they’re talking about the loss at the Euros last year, surely it would have been a good moment to invite Rashford, Sancho or Saka? Nope.
During their conversation, the royal, who is referred to as just ‘William’, credits football with teaching him that ‘disappointment is a part of life.’ He said: ‘You learn by playing a number of times and many other things in life that disappointment is part of life and how you handle it is crucial. Handling some of those really disappointing England results in the past, that was hard, I found that really difficult, because again the same euphoria that we had comes crashing down. You feel high and all together, and then normal life just gets on again.’
Elsewhere, William spoke about self-belief and self-doubt, saying: ‘The difference between the two and what route your life takes…Self belief is so crucial, but self doubt is always lurking on…on the both sides of everyone’s lives, no matter what walk of life you’re in. If you take the wrong path or something happens beyond your control, you can end up in the self doubt quite quickly, and then things can get much harder.’
The prince also recalled playing four simultaneous games of football with his entire set at school – around 60 pupils – using multiple balls. He spoke about playing football at school, recalling it as ‘complete carnage and chaos’, adding: ‘That’s what led me on to wanting to play more and more football. I loved it.’
Oh, so William loved the violent chaos of youth football? Interesting. The most telling comments are about self-belief and self-doubt though – while I agree that self-belief is important, self-doubt is also important. Self-doubt drives people to seek excellence, self-doubt drives people to learn more, to reach higher, to work harder. It’s a false dichotomy, to set up self doubt as the enemy of self belief, they can and should coexist in each person. And what does William have to believe in? He has unearned self-belief. He has the conceit of a white man born into unexamined and unacknowledged privilege. He’s so privileged that he didn’t even think to invite the footballers who were victims of racist abuse onto this show?
Prince William sat down with footballers Harry Kane and Declan Rice to have an “honest, open and authentic conversation around the importance of supporting our mental wellbeing.” The Royal Foundation teamed up with COPA90 for a special episode of the Game of 5s show 📸 Pete Banks pic.twitter.com/0AGa6Urasy
— Rebecca Russell (@RMRussell29) November 7, 2022
Photos courtesy of Cover Images, Avalon Red.