After the shocking defeat against Lens in the curtain-raiser of the new season, Thomas Tuchel was able to welcome four of his regulars back into the fold in the encounter against Olympique Marseille. It is important to note that Paris Sanit-Germain were without their 7 regular players in the opening match.

Florian Thauvin’s 31st-minute volley settled the encounter, which ended in ridiculous scenes as referee Jerome Brisard dished out red cards after red cards in a stoppage-time brawl.

Neymar was given the marching orders for hitting Alvaro Gonzalez; Leandro Paredes reacted violently to a foul from countryman Dario Benedetto, with both Argentinians dismissed along with Layvin Kurzawa and Jordan Amavi for their parts in the ensuing fracas.

Neymar and Gonzalez were engaged in a constant verbal duel, which threatened to spill over at times – those in the VAR room noticed that Neymar had hit Alvaro on the back of the head.

Neymar, as he made his way off the pitch, took it upon himself to tell the fourth official and the nearby TV camera that he was simply reacting to a racist comment made by the Spaniard.

“He’s racist, that’s why I hit him,” he said.

After the game, the PSG star didn’t back down either.

“I only regret that I didn’t hit that a**hole in the face,” Neymar tweeted.

The Brazilian later added to that tweet, stating what Alvaro had said to him.

“VAR spotting my ‘attack’ is easy,” he wrote.

“Now I want to see it pick up the image of the racist calling me a ‘monkey son of a b**ch’… that is what I want to see!”

“And then?”

“I do a rainbow flick, you punish me.”

“For a slap, I get sent off.”

“What about them? What then?”

Neymar may face a lengthy suspension in Ligue 1 now as, on top of his red card, he sarcastically applauded the referee while he made his way off the pitch.

By nature, the Brazilians are quite straightforward and honest in their opinion. Neymar may earn a lot of harsh comments for his histrionics and big parties, but deep down, he is not someone who would react in an ugly fashion until and unless someone crosses the limits.

He hit Gonzalez – the red card was the correct decision, but why Neymar did such should be investigated as well. There should be footages available in this era, where Gonzalez made racial remarks.

Then various outlets drew the attention of Angel Di Maria, who returned to action after recovering from COVID-19, spitting at Gonzalez. Di Maria’s action was clearly not ideal during this time of Pandemic, but one should not forget what the French football expert Jonathan Johnson, who was in attendance at the game, tweeted, “Neymar appears convinced that Gonzalez racially abused Di Maria.”

Bananas were thrown on to the pitch, monkey gestures, racist jibes by players, and racist chants from the stands – racism in football seems to have taken a permanent place in football despite all the criticisms and movements against it.

The Guardian reported on January 30, 2020, “More than 150 football-related racist incidents were reported to police last season, Home Office figures show a rise of more than 50% on the year before and more than double the number from three seasons ago.”

“The figures, revealed by Home Office minister Susan Williams, show three years of increases in reported incidents across England and Wales, with a sharp rise from 98 to 152 between the 2017-18 and 2018-19 seasons. Previously there had been a decline in reported incidents of racially charged non-violent abuse, such as chanting or verbal intimidation, from 99 during the 2013-14 season, to 78 in 2014-15, 68 in 2015-16, and 70 in 2016-17.”

The picture is not only shoddy in the Premier League but in the other top leagues of Europe and the rest of the world, it is the same.

Ligue 1 does have a dark history regarding this issue.

Back on April 12, 2019, 1 game between Dijon and Amiens was temporarily suspended after the visitors’ captain Prince Gouano complained he was racially abused.

The game was stopped in the 78th minute as players from both sides headed towards the touchline of the Stade Gaston-Gerard after Gouano said he heard insults from behind the goal his side was defending.

The play was resumed following discussions between players, coaches, and officials after which Gouano approached the stand by pointing toward supporters in the crowd.

In January 2005, as part of an anti-racism initiative in Ligue 1, Paris Saint-Germain’s players wore all-white jerseys and the opposing Lens players wore all-black during a French league match. The move backfired after racist elements among PSG’s crowd in the Kop of Boulogne sung “Come on the whites”. The racist overtone was exacerbated by monkey chants from the Boulogne crowd whenever a Lens player touched the ball.

On November 23, 2006, in a game between Paris Saint-Germain and Haopel Tel Aviv, a police officer, as well as many players on the field were targets of racial slurs. The police officer being chanted at threw teargas into the stands and shot his gun, killing one and injuring another.

On April 18, 2007, Lyon player Milan Baros was accused of racially abusing Rennes’ Stéphane Mbia by implying that Mbia smelt.

On May 4, he was found guilty of the gesture, but found not guilty of racism, and was banned for three league matches.

On September 17, 2007, Libourne’s Burkinabe player Boubacar Kebe was abused by fans of Bastia; he was red-carded for retaliating.

In February 2008, Bastia was again at the center of controversy when their fans unfurled a racist banner, again aimed at Kebe, which delayed the kick-off of the match by three minutes.

Then, Abdeslam Ouaddou of Valenciennes was racially abused by a fan from opponents Metz; Metz and the Ligue de Football Professionnel announced that they would be suing the fan in question. The match referee did not see the incident and so booked Ouaddou for challenging the fan.

Valenciennes Chairman Francis Decourriere later demanded that the match be replayed “in front of children from Valenciennes and Metz.”

Following this incident, the French Football Federation made steps to introduce harsher punishments.

In March 2008, Bastia’s Frederic Mendy claimed he had been racially abused by Grenoble fans.

In November 2013, former defender and the French national team’s most-capped player, Lilian Thuram, has said white players need to show solidarity with players who receive racist abuse, saying, “The action of not saying anything – somehow – it makes you an accomplice.

Now, Neymar is the latest victim and even though some outlets doubt whether Gonzalez did such racial comments or not, but there is no need for a player like Neymar to hit back at Twitter.

Football in Europe is wrestling against racism, but at the end of the day, it is losing the fight against this malaise.


Say No to Racism!


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