'Violence creates disasters' - Rafael Nadal on protests over George Floyd death

Spaniard sympathises with Americans expressing their pain but is wary of escalating tensions

epa08366233 (FILE) Rafael Nadal of Spain reacts during a press conference after losing his quarter final match against Dominic Thiem of Austria at the Australian Open Grand Slam tennis tournament at Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne, Australia, 29 January 2020, re-issued 16 April 2020. Nadal said during a radio interview that he thinks it will be difficult to have a big tournament taking place in short- or mid-term. As Wimbledon was already cancelled, the French Open were postponed to 20 September until 04 October and also the US Open in New York are  still due to take place from 24 August until 13 September.  EPA/LUKAS COCH AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND OUT *** Local Caption *** 55830796
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Rafael Nadal is confident that the fight for equality will eventually succeed but has warned that “violence creates disasters”.

The Spanish world No 2 has been following from afar the nationwide protests that have swept the United States in the wake of the death of African- American George Floyd in Minneapolis.

Nadal posted an image of a black square, with no caption, on his social media in observation of ‘#blackouttuesday’, earlier this week, and was asked about what he thinks can be done to eradicate racism in sport, whether high-profile sports stars should use their platform to call out any racism they see and if he believes it’s time for more black ex-athletes in positions of power across the major sporting bodies.

“I think it’s a very long conversation and it’s a difficult situation to answer right now. We don’t have enough time to talk about this problem,” said Nadal in a Zoom press conference call with international media on Thursday.

“But of course, all the people who want a peaceful world, we are against racism, we are against poverty, we are against all terrible stuff that is happening in this world.

“When you see all these disasters on the streets, my feeling is that’s not the way to protest or to… I don’t know, I don’t like… that’s not a good example either.”

Nadal described the situation in the United States as “ugly” but is hopeful for the future.

“Of course the situation is critical but I really believe strongly in people and I really believe that we will be able to fix the problems,” added Nadal.

“Like everything, it takes time, all the improvements, it takes time. But we are getting there in all ways ... to everybody having the same opportunities, to everybody having the same rights, in terms of being protected.

“Of course it’s not enough, of course we need to keep working hard to make this world a better place.

“Violence and pandemics like this today, create a difficult climate for the world. It’s important to stay with calm, to respect everyone and live together in peace, that’s the main thing in my opinion. I respect every single opinion and every single thing that avoids violence, because violence creates disasters.”

Young players like Coco Gauff, Naomi Osaka and Frances Tiafoe have lent their voices to the Black Lives Matter movement and are using their platforms to spread awareness and call for change and justice.

The 16-year-old Gauff gave a passionate and powerful speech at a peaceful protest in Delray Beach, Florida this week.

“My name is Coco, and Coco is my grandma, and I think it’s sad that I’m here protesting the same thing that she did, 50-plus years ago,” said Gauff.

“So I’m here to tell you guys this, that we must first love each other, no matter what. We must have the tough conversations with my friends. I’ve been spending all week having tough conversations, trying to educate my non-black friends on how they can help the movement.

“Second, we need to take action, and yes, we’re out here protesting and I’m not of age to vote, but it’s in your hands to vote for my future, for my brothers’ future, and for your future, so that’s one way to make change.

“Third, you need to use your voice, no matter how big or small your platform is.”

Tiafoe and his girlfriend Ayan Broomfield created a widely shared video that featured a host of athletes including Osaka, Serena Williams, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Gael Monfils with the hash-tag ‘#racquetsdownhandsup’, encouraging their fellow athletes to use their platforms to speak up and spread awareness.

Osaka has attended the protests in Minneapolis and has been sharing useful information on her social media channels.