Pep Guardiola has said that only 'stupid people' believe footballers should stay out of politics, praising Raheem Sterling and Marcus Rashford for their recent activism.
Rashford has partnered with FareShare during lockdown, a charity providing food relief to vulnerable people during the current crisis.
Sterling, meanwhile, has spoken out against racism in the game amid the Black Lives Matter movement, which has inspired millions of people across the world to take to the streets in protest over the last several weeks.
Both players have received flack for poking their heads above the parapet but City boss Guardiola has defended the pair.
"Because maybe these stupid people don’t believe you are human beings too,” he said of the critics (via Goal). “We can have an opinion the same as a nurse, a doctor or even a politician. What we are, we are humans and why shouldn’t we say our opinion when you believe you can make a better society, when you are public.
“What Raheem Sterling has done many times, players in our club, Marcus Rashford or whoever, of course they have to use these platforms to make a better society. 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 their families, for our kids, for the next generations.
“So that is always why, when the people say it is not enough, of course it isn’t but let’s start from here. I admire a lot these kind of gestures because they do it for all of us.”
Guardiola is no stranger to political statements himself, having received an £20,000 fine back in 2018 for wearing a yellow ribbon in support of the Catalan independence movement.
The former Barcelona manager was speaking ahead of his side's meeting with Arsenal on Wednesday evening. The Citizens have not played for over 100 days and a defeat to the Gunners could allow Liverpool to seal a maiden Premier League title with a win over Everton on Sunday.