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2020, the year when footballers stood up against racism

Analysis. “Say no to racism”. Until then, the slogan was displayed in capital letters on the edges of lawns, and in television spots: “Say no to racism”. But in football stadiums, for a long time, the formula remained a dead letter. By collectively deciding to leave the lawn, Tuesday, December 8, 2020, after the fourth Romanian referee, Sebastian Coletscu, had designated the Cameroonian assistant coach of Istanbul Basaksehir, Pierre Achille Webo, by the word “Negru” (black, in Romanian), the players of Paris-Saint-Germain and the Turkish team in the Champions League, have chosen to take the formula literally.

“I really felt protected”, greeted Pierre Achille Webo at the end of December, returning to France 24 on this event and welcoming ” solidarity “ of both teams. An unprecedented situation at this level of the competition, which forced the hand of the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA), forcing the European football body to postpone the match until the next day. Normally, only the referee and the match delegate have the power to interrupt a match.

Read our story: PSG-Basaksehir players leave the field, denouncing racist remarks by a referee

If racist abuse in the world of football is a phenomenon of magnitude – 54% of football fans have witnessed racist abuse while watching a professional match, according to a survey by the anti-racist association Kick It Out in 2018 with 27,000 supporters – the official reactions were slow to take the measure.

The silence of the closed door of the Parc des Princes

“I have to do something, I have to score to make them really ch, said the current Paris-Saint-Germain striker, Moise Kean, victim of cries of monkeys during a meeting between his Juventus Turin and Cagliari in 2019. Keeping quiet and waiting for the storm to pass, drawing extra soul to play from it, has long been the only pattern presented to insulted black players on the pitch.

In 2006, the “No mas! “ (” Never again “) launched by the Cameroonian star, Samuel Eto’o after racist insults against him was not followed up: the Barça striker had been convinced to stay on the lawn by his coach. From now on, athletes claim their right to speak, and “Do not apologize for their identity”, observed Piara Powar, director of the NGO Football Against Racism in Europe (FARE), in 2019.

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