By Tom Walker | Head of Sport
On Sunday February 16, the whole sporting world was drawn to one particular football match taking place in the small Portuguese city Guimaraes. However, it was not the match itself that was the talking point, as once again there was another alleged incident of fans spouting racial abuse from the stands.
This would, and quite frankly should, have been the stand-alone story. However, as the victim of the racial abuse, Porto forward Moussa Marega, proceeded to walk off the pitch in protest, a few of his team-mates attempted to stop Marega walking off the pitch by blocking is path and dragging him back.
“It was a great humiliation; it was impossible to continue.” The Malian striker said to the RMC after the game.
Prior to walking off, Marega, who had previously spent a season on loan at Vitoria Guimaraes in the 2016-17 campaign, had chairs and other objects thrown at him from the stands after he put Porto 2-1 up on the hour mark. He responded by pointing toward his skin in front of a section of the stadium and picking up one of the chairs and holding it above his head in celebration, which the referee unbelievably gave him a yellow card for.
A reporter for Sport TV who was at the game, also explained that there were audible monkey chants taking place throughout the game.
Marega later posted a message on Instagram calling the supporters who targeted him as “idiots” and said “I’d also like to show my thanks to the referee who did not defend me and who gave me a yellow card for defending the colour of my skin. I hope I never meet you on a football pitch ever again. You are a disgrace”.
Marega did not comment on the actions of his teammates.
The official Porto Twitter account tweeted “We are a family” Dragons Together’, alongside a picture of the Malian forward. But the actions undertaken on the pitch did not display this ideology of family and togetherness
As someone who has never been subject to any kind of racial abuse, I am in no position to give my opinion on what Marega himself, should or should not have done, but for his teammates to try and physically stop him leaving the pitch is unacceptable.
Kick It Out, football’s equality and inclusion organisation put out a statement on Twitter regarding the issue: ‘The blatant disregard for protocol is unacceptable, and players should be united and walk off together in their condemnation of racism, instead of this.
Showing solidarity against the burdening issue of racism, both in football and wider society is the least we can do whilst a more practical solution is brought forward, and what those Porto players did symbolised a complete divide on the issue. Walking off with their teammate, or simply accepting and supporting his decision would have demonstrated a much greater sense of solidarity and narrowed the focus exclusively on finding those guilty for the racist abuse.