PSG-Basaksehir players leave the field, denouncing the racist remarks of a referee

At the Parc des Princes, the players of PSG and Basaksehir left the lawn never to return, denouncing an expression deemed racist by the fourth referee on December 8.

The game has stopped. On the giant screen of the Parc des Princes, the clock indicates twenty-two minutes and twenty-three seconds. Blocked. Tuesday, December 8, the last meeting of the group stage of the Football Champions League between Paris-Saint-Germain and Istanbul Basaksehir did not exceed this playing time.

At 9:22 p.m. and 23 seconds, the twenty-two players left the pitch never to return. An unprecedented decision in the competition, at the instigation of footballers, taking up the UEFA slogan “Say no to racism” (“Say no to racism”).

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After a choppy start to the game, the evening shifted to quarter of an hour of play. On the Turkish bench, the staff annoyed the many faults whistled against his players. Finding Pierre Achille Webo, assistant coach of the Turkish champion, too vehement, the fourth referee, Sebastian Coltescu, addresses the field referee, Ovidiu Hategan, Romanian like him, to urge him to intervene: “It’s the black [negru, en roumain] here. Go see and identify it. This guy, the black one ”, he said, according to a translation from Agence France-Presse (AFP).

In the closed-door stadium, the word resounds and triggers Webo’s anger. “Why you said“ negro ”? “ (“Why did you say ‘nigga’?”), Repeats the former Cameroonian international to the fourth referee, while the players gather on the edge of the field. His expulsion by the main referee in no way eases the tensions.

Gathered around the referee, Stambouliotes and Parisians reproach his assistant for using a racist term. Basaksehir Demba Ba’s substitute striker leads the charge. “When you talk about a white man, you say ‘that man’, not this white man”. Why are you doing it with a black man? “, asserts the native of the Paris region to the referee. If the latter explains that in Romanian negru does not have a negative connotation, neither the players nor the officials, who have joined the edge of the field, are not convinced.

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In 2020, the fed up is expressed

Racism in stadiums is not a recent phenomenon. Many players have been the target of insults related to their skin color. Tired, no doubt, of seeing that racist remarks and insults are still common in certain stadiums without the authorities making radical decisions, the players seem to have concluded that they themselves should act. In 2020, a year marked by the commitment of many athletes, especially in the United States, against racial injustice, the fed up is expressed.

Regardless of Sebastian Coltescu’s intentions, Demba Ba urged his partners to return to the locker room and walked the talk. “As athletes, we have a power that we don’t even know. If we get together and talk, things change ”, expressed the player a few months ago. Committed against racism, the Senegalese international was already pleading for a radical solution.

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First star who tried to stop a match, in Zaragoza, in 2006 – he had been convinced to stay by his coach – Cameroonian Samuel Eto’o had marked out the procedure to follow. “Of course you have to leave the field. Football moves a lot of money, but most of the actors that spawn it are black, underlined the former Cameroonian striker in 2019 in The Gazzetta dello Sport. If one day, with the support of the white players, they decided not to play, I think that would change quickly. ”

Unlike countless previous cases, on Tuesday, no one came to calm Demba Ba’s anger, no partner pushed him to put his feelings in his pocket so that the game could resume. On the contrary. “Why does he say”nigga”The fourth referee? Come on, we’re going out! “, launched the Parisian defender Presnel Kimpembe, followed by the other players, and the management of the teams. ” We can’t play with this guy ”, retorted Kylian Mbappé to the central referee, designating the fourth referee.

Like Neymar, following Demba Ba, the Parisian star pushed partners and opponents to return to the locker room. “Sometimes you decide for yourself to change the world, sometimes it falls on you”, professed, at the beginning of November, towards the French world champion the committed American footballer Megan Rapinoe, urging him to take a more position.

Global resonance scandal

By refusing to resume the game, and by forcing the organizers to reschedule ” exceptionally ” the meeting Wednesday “With a new team of officials”, the players turned the prestigious Champions League into a scandal with global resonance.

In addition to the many messages of support from footballers, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, close to Basaksehir, seized on the case to “Strongly condemn the racist remarks made against Pierre Webo”. The French Minister for Sports, Roxana Maracineanu, welcomed “A historic decision in the face of an attitude that [les joueurs] found it unacceptable. An expression of ordinary racism ”.

He will belong to the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA), which was conspicuous by its lack of reaction – unsuccessfully trying to get the game back on track by exfiltrating the fourth referee in the truck occupied by the referee in charge of the match. video assistance – to clarify the course of events. And to fill the blind spot of its rules, which does not envisage possible racist behavior on the part of the refereeing body. In the cathedral silence of the Parisian enclosure behind closed doors, the sound clips will be easier to analyze than if 47,000 supporters had kept up a hellish noise.

Thanks to RB Leipzig’s victory against Manchester United (3-2), PSG learned of their qualification for the knockout stages of the Champions League. The initial objective of this “Final”, set by Thomas Tuchel, the Parisian coach, has been completed. Like a foray into sport in an evening where the essentials were elsewhere. Tuesday, in Paris, the game stopped. In their own way, footballers have taken over their sport.


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