Héctor Bellerín, a defender for Arsenal and a vegan, believes football players have a responsibility to speak out about important social justice issues.
Speaking to the club website, Bellerín said, “I think as footballers we have a massive platform that we should be using way more than we actually are.” He commented that while it is “very comfortable” to “not think about anything,” athletes could be taking advantage of the fact that they are in the public eye. He said, “we should be the people that scream at these social issues and get them out there, so as a society we can move forward.”
Bellerín is no stranger to speaking out about important matters. The 23-year-old has talked openly about his experiences with online abuse and bullying, and about the sometimes “nasty” and homophobic nature of football culture. And when Spurs and England defender Danny Rose revealed he had been diagnosed with depression, Bellerín publicly praised him, commenting on the importance of removing the “chains,” for men especially, that often keep people from speaking about mental health.
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According to Bellerín, the sports industry itself fosters this stay-silent environment. “I feel like the football industry is an industry where we have to be really quiet and play. I think the code around it is that footballers can’t really do anything else other than kick a ball,” he said. He added that this stereotype keeps people from “stepping out of the box.”
However, Bellerín explained, “There’s so many good things and positive things that come with raising problems and actually showing people that we’re humans.” He added, “We’re not machines, we’re good at what we do, we have talent and we work really hard but sometimes it feels like this is all we do and our life is just playing football.”
He continued, “It’s not. We’re humans, we have a life, we have families and we have problems and worries.”
Bellerín, whose fans have predicted he could be Arsenal’s future team captain, also often speaks freely about his vegan diet and its positive impact on his health. The footballer recently revealed that what started as a short-term “detox,” resulted in a permanent lifestyle shift toward plant-based living. In particular, he noted reduced inflammation, improved recovery time, and boosted energy levels.
Bellerín is also passionate about environmental conservation and reducing plastic use.
Image Credit: Héctor Bellerín
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