The untimely and unfortunate death of George Floyd at the hands of a white police officer still remains the cause of widespread protests, turmoil and grief all around the world. In the USA, people have taken their fight against racism to the streets, with the football fraternity also voicing their support to the cause. In light of the current situation, here are five more instances of footballers taking a standing against racism.
#1 England’s night of horror
During England’s 5-1 win in Montenegro in the Euro 2020 qualifiers, English forward Raheem Sterling and his teammates, Danny Rose and Callum Hudson-Odoi faced racist abuse from the home fans in Podgorica. In the 81st minute, after scoring England’s fifth goal, Sterling celebrated by putting his hands to his ears, with the Manchester City star later stating that it was a gesture against the racist chants.
In the post-match interview, Sterling said :
“A couple of idiots ruined a great night and it is a real sad thing to hear.”
Danny Rose was also a victim of the racial abuse from the Montenegro fans after his strong tackle on Aleksandar Boljevic in injury-time, while teenager Hudson-Odoi could also hear the chants from the bench.
#2 Mesut Ozil quitting international football
Germany and Arsenal midfielder, Mesut Ozil quit international football in 2018, citing the discrimination he received over his Turkish roots.
Ozil was criticised, received hate mails and threats after being photographed with Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan at a London event in May 2018 and also after Germany’s lacklustre performance in the World Cup later that year.
“It is with a heavy heart and after much consideration that because of recent events, I will no longer be playing for Germany at international level while I have this feeling of racism and disrespect.”
#3 Kevin-Prince Boateng’s heroic stand against racism
In a pre-season match between AC Milan and Italian lower-division team, Pro Patria back in January of 2013, Kevin-Prince Boateng faced racial slurs along with his Rossoneri teammates – Urby Emanuelson, Sulley Muntari and M’Baye Niang.
The Ghana midfielder responded by picking up the ball and kicking it at a section of the crowd in the 26th minute of the game. He later took off his shirt and walked off the field with the support of his Milan teammates.
Boateng took his fight to Twitter by saying – “Shame that these things still happen… #StopRacismforever.”
Due to Boateng’s stand against racism, he received the 1Live Krone 2017 award, recognised by German radio station – WDR Radio. He is the only footballer to be a recipient of the award.
#4 Dutch league players unite against racism
Footballers from all the divisions in the Netherlands protested against racism in 2019, after an incident involving Excelsior winger Ahmad Mendes Moreira, who was at the receiving end of racial chants on November last year.
The initiative began when players from the Eredivisie and the Eerste Divisie stood on the field for 60 seconds with the message “Geef Racisme de Rode Kaart”, which translates to – “Racism? Then we don’t play football!” brandished all around the stadiums.
Fans at the venues also took part by carrying the message written in red and black. Moreira took to Twitter to express his gratitude towards the gesture by saying: “In this way I want to thank everyone for the many letters, statements of support and positive messages that I have received from you!”
#5 Samuel Eto’o threatening to walk off against Real Zaragoza
Former Barcelona striker Samuel Eto’o threatened to walk off the pitch in a match against Real Zaragoza after facing racist remarks from the fans in 2007.
A small section of the crowd at the Romareda targeted Eto’o for most of the match, but things turned uglier when the Cameroonian went to take a corner late on as bottles were thrown his way and monkey chants were heard.
Eto’o was visibly livid and wanted to walk off but his teammates and then-Barcelona manager Frank Rijkaard persuaded the striker to continue playing. The Blaugrana ultimately won the match 2-0 and Real Zaragoza were fined €9000.
Rijkaard said after the game:
“It was a shame – Samuel is a human being and he felt bad on the pitch.”