QPR director of football Les Ferdinand hopes the addition of Kiyan Prince as a new player on FIFA 21 will encourage more young people to put down their knives.
Kiyan, a promising youth footballer at the west London club, was 15 years old when he was stabbed to death trying to break up a fight on May 18, 2006.
Fifteen years on he has been added to the hugely popular FIFA game, with is developers EA Sports working with those who knew him best to hone his on-pitch characteristics.
QPR have also officially re-signed him – “the most important signing QPR will ever make” according to Ferdinand – and given him the squad number 30.
QPR work closely with the Kiyan Prince Foundation, which is run by Kiyan’s father Dr Mark Prince OBE, and in 2019 renamed their stadium in the charity’s honour.
Ferdinand hopes this new initiative can raise even more awareness and reach even more people.
“Loads of young guys play FIFA, and they will see this and think about not just him losing his life, but his family, the part of their lives that was lost,” former England striker Ferdinand said.
“The guy that committed the murder went to prison, so his family’s life was lost. Leaving your house with a knife is an intention, whether our intention is to protect yourself or to take somebody else’s life.
“We’ve got to get this out of people’s minds. Hopefully this is something that might be able to prick someone’s conscience and think, ‘well you know what, let’s put this knife down’.”
Police-recorded offences involving a knife or sharp instrument in England and Wales rose to a record high of 46,265 for the year up to March 2020.
Of the 683 recorded homicides in England and Wales in that period, 39 per cent involved a knife or sharp instrument, with the number of homicides of that type in London rising from 67 to 86.
Ferdinand said: “I went to school around the corner from this football club in Shepherd’s Bush, I lived in Ladbroke Grove.
“If I think about me leaving Ladbroke Grove and coming to Shepherd’s Bush, what’s going on in this country at the moment is that you’re going from one postcode to another and you can lose your life because of that. I just can’t comprehend it.
“Anything we can do to change people’s mindset, we have to do that.”
Dr Prince also hopes the impact of this move is a profound one.
He added: “The people playing are going to want to find out how can a dead young black boy be on a game?
“There have been others like him, but he stands out for all the right reasons. You should be finding out why he was a success, and it had nothing to do with the Bugattis and cars and money, it’s all to do with his character.”
Dr Prince believes the world would be a better place if more people were like his son.
“Kiyan was the kind of son that you talk about, and say, ‘I wish my boy was more like this’,” he said.
“(He was) very discerning, very thoughtful of others, very caring, even down to the way he was with animals.
“A lot of young people think ‘if I do something threatening, if I do something hard, if I do something tough and overpower you, I’ll get respect’.
“Kiyan showed that it’s different from that – if you show that you’re gentle and kind then you will have a lot more respect.
“Kiyan didn’t know he was building his legacy daily in his short 15 years, in his relationships with his teachers, with his peers, his parents and his brothers and sisters.”
Asked what Kiyan would have thought of appearing on FIFA, Dr Prince added: “Me and him competed against each other regularly on FIFA to hours that we really shouldn’t have been up until, one or two o’clock in the morning. He would have been so gassed to know that he is a player in the game.”
:: Members of the public who want to support the campaign can donate to the Kiyan Prince Foundation by texting KPF (then the amount) to 70490. All brands involved in the campaign, including EA, Adidas and Topps Cards are donating money to the Kiyan Prince Foundation for licensing the likeness.