February 18 – The world players’ union FIFPro has come out in support for players or teams who walk off the pitch due to racism following the abuse suffered by Porto forward Moussa Marega (pictured) at the hands of opposing fans during a Portuguese league match on Sunday.
The Mali forward was subject to abuse throughout his team’s 2-1 win at Vitoria Guimaraes and pushed away teammates, who were trying to calm him down, as he tried to leave the pitch just nine minutes after he scored what turned out to be the winning goal. He was eventually substituted
“Because the application of measures to protect professional footballers is failing, FIFPro fully supports players and teams who decide to walk off the pitch and will provide assistance to those players in any way necessary,” the body said in a statement. “We are deeply concerned for the well-being of the players who are subjected to this type of hurtful discrimination.”
It said neither the existing three-step protocol for dealing with racist incidents in matches nor sanctions such as fines and partial stadium closures had worked.
“The large number of recent cases of discrimination show that football’s general anti-racism protocol is insufficiently applied and does not achieve its objectives,” FIFpro said.
“Sanctions passed by sporting organisations have had no significant effect and law enforcement in many countries has failed to provide appropriate responses to prosecute the perpetrators of these crimes – whether in stadia or online.”
The Marega case has generated sharp criticism and on Monday, former Dutch striking icon Ruud Gullit said: “The other players should have protected him and stood up for him. This decision to leave the pitch shouldn’t just be up to the player.”
Contact the writer of this story at firstname.lastname@example.org