LONDON (Reuters) – Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has condemned as ‘stupid’ those who say players like Marcus Rashford and Raheem Sterling should focus on football rather than speaking out on social issues.

Manchester United and England forward Rashford has campaigned successfully for school food vouchers to be provided over the summer holidays.

City forward Sterling, also an established England international, has backed anti-racism protests after the death of unarmed black man George Floyd in police custody in Minneapolis.

“Maybe stupid people don’t believe that you are a human being,” said Guardiola ahead of the Premier League restart against Arsenal on Wednesday.

“We can have an opinion the same like a doctor or even a politician. We are humans. Why should we not say our opinions to be a better society? What Raheem Sterling has done many times or players in our club, Michael Rashford or whoever.

“Of course they have to use their platform to make a better society,” continued the Spaniard.

“They don’t need to get more money. Fortunately for them they have enough so they do it to get a better place to live for the families, for our kids, for the next generation… I admire a lot these kind of gestures.”

Guardiola has also been outspoken on social and political matters. The manager, whose mother died in the COVID-19 pandemic, in March donated one million euros (899,538.29 pounds) to the fight against coronavirus in Spain.

He was fined 20,000 pounds ($25,126) by the Football Association in 2018 and warned about his conduct for defiantly wearing a yellow ribbon on his suit in support of jailed pro-independence Catalan politicians.

Premier League Players will sport logos supporting Britain’s National Health Service on the front of their shirts and ‘Black Lives Matter’ replacing their names above the number on their backs when play resumes this week.

(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Toby Davis)

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