Players can put rivalry aside to aid Marcus Rashford’s campaign – Andy Robertson

By Jim van Wijk, PA
·4-min read

Liverpool defender Andy Robertson feels footballers can comfortably set aside any club rivalry to be united behind Marcus Rashford’s campaign to end child food poverty.

England and Manchester United forward Rashford has drawn widespread praise for his role in highlighting the issue, which has been exacerbated by the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

Rashford’s campaign resulted in the Government back-tracking to announce free meals would be provided to disadvantaged children during the Christmas holidays.

Manchester United striker Marcus Rashford has fronted a high-profile campaign to help combat child poverty
Manchester United striker Marcus Rashford has fronted a high-profile campaign to help combat child poverty (Paul Ellis/PA)

Prime Minister Boris Johnson personally called the 23-year-old to give him the news that £170million worth of additional funding was to be made available under the Covid Winter Grant Scheme.

Before the latest announcement by the Department for Work and Pensions, businesses and councils across the country had stepped in to help fund free meals during the October half-term for those who needed them.

Football supporters have also played their part recently, with fans boycotting watching Premier League teams on pay-per-view TV and instead donating to local food banks.

Scotland international Robertson believes it is a campaign which everyone involved in the sport can make a telling contribution to.

“Marcus is a credit to everyone in the way he goes about his business and, of course, I’m sure he wished he didn’t have to do it either,” Robertson told The Big Issue.

“We’re all in the situation where people need to start doing things and he’s at the top of that tree just now.

“He’s a credit to football. Forget any rivalry, it’s nothing because we all have the same view as Marcus on this. He is definitely making his voice heard.”

Glasgow-born Robertson, who joined Liverpool from Hull during July 2017, knows the continuing worries of those impacted by the pandemic are shared by everyone in the dressing room.

“We’re socially conscious, of course we are. Our chat in the last couple of months on the training ground is probably no different than a lot of people’s workplaces,” Robertson said.

“We’re in fortunate positions, but some of our family face uncertainty, our friends face uncertainty and, of course, the wider community do so we are very conscious of it.

“We’re very concerned about how it’s all going to pan out, but if we can help in any way possible then we’ll look to do that. We’re not going to solve the problem that the pandemic has left alone.

Football fans boycotted the Premier League's pay-per=view matches and donated the £14.95 free to local food banks
Football fans boycotted the Premier League’s pay-per-view matches and donated the £14.95 free to local food banks (Michael Regan/PA)

“But if everyone pulls in the right direction, then we can hopefully get the economy back to where it was and get people back in work.

“People don’t want to rely on benefits or food banks because work is their community and it is their life and that’s been taken away from them through unforeseen circumstances.”

In response to the Government’s pledge, Rashford said he was “so proud” of those who had united behind his campaign and was “overwhelmed by the outpouring of empathy and understanding”.

The Manchester United striker also promised his supporters to “fight for the rest of my life” to help end child hunger in the UK.

Robertson, 26, echoed the England forward’s sentiments.

“We can at least give people a meal each day and make sure they’re fed whatever their circumstances are,” he said. “It doesn’t sit well with me if we don’t.

“It’s incredible the amount of people that rely on food banks, it’s scary. And, unfortunately, that number is only going to get higher with what’s going on in the world just knowing people are losing jobs and things like that.

“So people that are fortunate enough to have a job and get paid well – I believe we can give that back because these people need us now probably more than ever.”

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