European football: did racism return?

Spain, Germany, England, Russia, and Italy have been the epicenter of strong racist altercations in recent months

European football: did racism return?

The European club football is characterized by having the highest level professional leagues, with the best players of the world and with the greatest diversity of nationalities. However, all these qualities haven´t been able to counteract the big stain that European football has: racism. In recent months, racism, which seemed to have been reduced considerably, has returned to the European football scene, especially Spain, Germany, England, Russia, and Italy.

Jefferson Lerma - Iago Aspas in Spain

Jefferson Lerma, Colombian player of 23 years old, who plays in the Levante U. D. of the first division of Spain, denounced a racist act against him in the match that his club played against Celta de Vigo on January 14, 2018. After a normal play rub btween Lerma and the Spanish player Iago Aspas, the Iberian launched a racist insult against the Latin American, according to the Colombian himself to the television channel Bein Sports: “Aspas told me black shot and that can´t happen. I talked to the referee and he told me that he was up to the balls of so much fucking… but well, it will be his turn to review it because he says so”.

Aspas, on the other hand, defended himself by denying that said verbal aggression had occurred, and that in any case what the players would say in the field of play must remain there. The Competition Committee will not open a file on these possible insults because the arbitration report of Judge Álvarez Izquierdo does not mention anything of the incident, but there is the possibility that an investigation will be opened if an official complaint is filed by Levante, which has already shown its I support Lerma through their social networks. The matter is in development, but the Colombian has already received the support of family, friends, and various players. The Association of Footballers of Spain contacted him to find out wat happened with Iago Aspas.

Leon Balogun and Anthony Ujah in Germany

The German-Nigerian Leon Balogun and the Nigerian Anthony Ujah, both players of Mainz 05 of the Germain Bundesliga, suffered racist attacks on January 13, 2018, by some fans of the Hannover 96. The two players went out to warm up before the game and began to be subject to racist insults by a section of the stands, which also began to emulate the sound of monkey. The Hannover 96 apologized for the painful episode and said it will initiate investigations to punish what happened and prevent it from happening again.

Mason Holgate – Roberto Firmino in England

The English defender of Everton, Mason Holgate, denounced Brazilian Roberto Firmino of Liverpool for racism. The incident occurred in the “Merseyside Derby” on January 5, 2018, in Anfield, valid for the third round of the FA Cup. The altercation came after a strong clash between both players from which Firmino was fired, so the Brazilian quickly rose and chided the English. The words used by Firmino are unknown, but Holgate was seriously offended and tried to reprimand the Brazilian, so various teammates decided to stop him. Mason Holgate did not stop and denounced with the referee Robert Madley the alleged racist insults of Firmino. After this episode, The Football Association (FA) decided to open and investigation, which is still ongoing.

Raheem Sterling in England

Sterling, Jamaican nationalized Englishman football player, 23 years old, and who plays for Manchester City, was the victim of a racist attack by an English fan. The aggressor, named Karl Anderson, approached the player hours before the match between Manchester City and Tottenham on December 16, 2017, and began to insult him strongly. The player, who was in his truck, left the vehicle to confront him, but the aggressor continued with his racist insults and gave him four kicks. Fortunately, the player no suffered injuries in his body, was able to participate in the match and scored two goals in the victory of his team by 4 to 1 on the Spurs.

Images of the surveillance cameras showed the attack, during which the aggressor, Karl Anderson, who already had 25 sentences for 37 different offenses, was tried by the British justice which sentenced him to four months in prison and forced him to pay a fine of 100 pounds. Anderson sketched various smiles in the trial, but eventually pleaded guilty to racially aggravated assault, while Sterling successfully overcame this impasse and continued his professional career normally.  

Bobby Adekanye, Rhian Brewster, and Morgan Gibbs-White

A series of racist episodes against lower-level players in England began in September 2017 when the Nigerian-born Dutchman Bobby Adekanye, a Liverpool player, was victim of racist insults by the most fanatical fans of Spartak Moscow, who shouted “monkey” to Adekanye when he entered the field in the match between the Russian team and Liverpool for the UEFA Youth League. Spartak Moscow was fined £60,000 and forced to close 500 seats for their next game in the competition.

In December 2017, the 17 years old English player, Rhian Brewster, reported several racist episodes of which he had been a victim. Brewster, champion with England of the U-17 World Cup and winner of the Golden Boot of this contest, lived the first racist episode in the European U-17 when a Ukrainian player called him “nigger”. Later, in a match against Sevilla of Spain by the UEFA Youth League, a player called him the same word. Finally, in a game against Spartak Moscow, Russian player Leonid Mironov insulted him badly, Brewster said in an interview with The Guardian newspaper: “They made me foul, I was on the ground and a Russian player approached my face and he said: ‘Eat my p… black, nigger”. The racist aggressions of the Ukrainian and the player of the Seville were not checked, and the verbal attack of the Russian Leonid Mironov is being studied, reason why could be sanctioned with a minimum of 10 games.

On the other hand, Rhian Brewster also denounced the racist aggression suffered by his compatriot Gibbs-White in the final of the U-17 World Cup against Spain. It´s unknown what was the Spanish player involved, but Brewster reported thar Gibbs-White was called “monkey” after an incident on the field. FIFA received the complaint from the FA, so it´s gathering evidence to start the investigation.

Fernando, Luiz Adriano, and Pedro Rocha In Russia

The three Brazilians, players of Spartak Moscow, suffered what many consider a racist act by their own club. The Russian team was in practice in Dubai, when the Russian defender Georgi Dzhykia, in charge of the Spartak Twitter account for that day, published a tweet in which the three Latin Americans appeared accompanied by the phrase: “Look how chocolates melt with the sun”. The tweet opened a worldwide controversy, but Fernando himself appeared in another tweet of Spartak Moscow account where he said in Russian that there is no racism in the club and that they are all friends and a family. However, Dzhykia will be investigated by the Russian Football Union.

Blaise Matuidi in Italy

The French midfield of Juventus was victim of racism in Italy in two occasions, being the first of them in a match against Hellas Verona on December 30, 2017, in the city of Verona. The player was insulted by more than three thousand 800 people with racist chants after a normal crossing of the game. Serie A League of Italy took action and decided to sanction Hellas Verona with 20.000 euros in addition to closing the shout tribune of its stadium, although this closure in conditional on a trial period. Matuidi suffered the second racist attack in the city of Cagliari on January 6, 2018. The game between Cagliari Calcio and Juventus was marred when several fans of the rossoblu club began to insult Matuidi for his skin color. The Frenchman was very affected and had to be reassured by his teammates. The Serie A announced that on this occasion no action will be taken against Cagliari because the referee not hears the insults.

Football has been one of the scenarios chosen by racist to express their hatred, which is why different entities associated with this sport, such as FIFA, UEFA, Conmebol, and Concacaf, among others, have led campaigns for many years to make this painful practice disappear from any football field. Much progress had been made on the issue, but racism in football has again attacked in Europe. However, all entities of world football will fight so this sport is no longer stained by acts such as these.


Latin American Post | Javier Aldana  
Copy edited by Laura Rocha Rueda

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