face of cries of monkey and insults, the awareness of footballers

The black players victims of racism in the stadiums publicly denounce this persistent plague and demand the stop of the meetings.

Time to Play 6 min.

Match between Bulgaria and England on October 14 in Sofia, during a stoppage of play following racist cries from Bulgarian fans.
Match between Bulgaria and England on October 14 in Sofia, during a stoppage of play following racist cries from Bulgarian fans. CATHERINE IVILL / GETTY IMAGES / AFP

Goals are not the only images shared by football fans on social media. Every weekend or so, coming from Italy, Eastern Europe or elsewhere, are multiplying the expressions of anger of the players face racist cries coming down the stands.

Whether they try to leave the field, as Mario Balotelli, send the ball in the stands, like the Brazilian Taison in Ukraine – for this expelled – or return to the locker room, like the Dutch Ahmad Mendes Moreira, the black players seem to have concluded that they themselves should warn about the extent of the phenomenon. Tired, no doubt, to see that racist insults are still common in some stages without the authorities taking radical decisions.

Long silent victims, can players be the solution to a problem that has returned to the media spotlight in the last two years? This turn would confirm a trend: the awareness of athletes who, on the scandals of their environment – sexual abuse, doping – as the economic stakes, now claim the right to speak.

In March, seven months before stopping a match of their own in Sofia, the players of the English team had not known how to react to racist insults in Montenegro. They relied on the only possible reaction: Raheem Sterling, the English striker of Jamaican origin, had scored and put his index finger on the ears, "To show them that it takes more than that to (the) disrupt and (the) stop ".

"This generation does not apologize for their identity"

This pattern has long been that of black players insulted in the field. Shut up and wait for the storm to pass. Use the extra energy that will make you play better, perhaps mark, giving the opportunity to chamber the platform from which the cries of monkey come. At best, complain after the match, in the press and the delegate of the match.

This lack of reaction was for many the product of education or past experiences. "I am not a victim. I am not a victim, insists the French defender Samuel Umtiti in I am not a monkey, a recent documentary on Canal +. My mother always told me: "If one day there is racism, you have to ignore it, stay calm and do what you have to do". "

For Ellis Cashmore, a sociologist at Aston University and author of many books on racism in sport, we can talk about "Law of silence". "For black footballers, this has long been considered a small price to pay for extremely well. They feared, by reacting, to become unpopular with other players, harming their careers. "


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