Inter wing-back Achraf Hakimi believes it is the duty of high-profile figures to use their platform to combat racism.
In an interview published in today’s newspaper edition of La Repubblica, the Morocco international spoke of his background and his life growing up near Madrid, as well as the responsibility he felt as a notable figure in public life to help tackle social issues.
“It was natural to choose Morocco. I feel Moroccan like my parents and I’m proud of it, Morocco is my home and my culture,” the 22-year-old claimed.
“Every time I hear the anthem I know that millions of others around the world are listening to it with me, feeling what I feel. In Morocco, football is experienced with even greater intensity.”
In the wake of the death of George Floyd in Atlanta last year, Hakimi followed up a goal for Borussia Dortmund by taking the knee, and he felt that it was his duty to fight for anti-racism causes.
“Public figures like us must tell the world that there are no differences between us and we must all work together to ensure racism no longer exists. It is a huge regret that it continues even in this century.
“People are treated differently for the colour of their skin and they don’t deserve it. It is not acceptable. We all have a heart and there comes a time in life when you have to understand it.”
Hakimi, a practicing Muslim, is set to enter a period of fasting for Ramadan and admitted that it made training and playing more difficult.
“It makes things harder, I don’t deny it. But it is an important part of my religion and culture, which I really care about. The important thing is to rest well and recover energy.”
The former Real Madrid defender revealed the influence of his family on his career and his life in Italy, with his wife Hiba an Italian cinephile.
“My father is my idol. When I was a child he worked in the market and my mother stayed at home. Together they made great sacrifices to put food on the table. Today I can afford to make them feel good and enjoy their grandchildren. My brother Nabil is also a point of reference. Together we grew up and fought together.
“My wife showed me some beautiful films. I also have to thank the music of (Italian rapper) Ghali for helping me learn the language, he has Arabic origins like me. We were already listening to him in Spain,” Hakimi concluded.