"I did this through hard work": Micah Richards hits back at critics questioning his position

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Former Manchester City star Micah Richards has responded passionately on-air to critics saying he's got a pundit role "because of Black Lives Matter" and questioning his experience and skill.

Speaking on Monday Night Football yesterday, the experienced professional spoke up about the abuse and double standards he'd been subjected to - while also vocally supporting fellow pundit Alex Scott, who has also been the victim of online abuse.

32-year-old Richards retired from professional football in summer 2019, and has become a regular feature on Sky's football coverage. He's also recently been named a columnist for Sportsmail, for which he recently wrote a piece titled 'Judge me on my punditry, not my skin tone'.

On last night's show, in conversation with Jamie Carragher and David Jones, Richards said: "I'm here working for Sky Sports, one of the biggest networks, corporations in the world. I'm here because I believed in myself... I'm in a privileged position, and I did this through hard work. The hard work that I put in is not going to be tarnished.

"I've got people on Twitter, I've got people people on Instagram [saying], 'Micah Richards is only on air because of this whole Black Lives Matter movement'. 

"But I've had conversations with corporations that I work for way before this and now I'm getting tarnished with the same brush - 'oh, he's only on TV because of Black Lives Matter'. Which is disheartening for me because I put in the work - I work every single day at my craft. I've been a professional footballer, I've won a Premier League, I played at the highest level - and I'm still getting stones thrown at me.

"If I have to fly the flag, if people want to throw stones at me, I'll happily take it because I know I put in the work."

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He went on to call Alex Scott, who now regularly presents BBC sports coverage, "absolutely incredible".

"It's even worse for her, because she's a woman - and she's seen as black as well," Richards said. "Which is double jeopardy - she's in a worse position. She's one of the best pundits... and all you see on Twitter and Instagram: 'what is a woman doing working in men's football, she doesn't know.'"

Scott has recently been rumoured to be taking over from Sue Barker on A Question of Sport after 24 years, though the BBC has said there have still been "no conversations". At the time, the BBC shared one of Scott's own anti-racism poems.