This past Sunday, what started as a typical football match ended in emotions and tears for a first-year rookie, Everton Luiz. Luiz, a Brazilian player who joined the Serbian Partizan Belgrade, faced off against Rad Belgrade, another Serbian team, when suddenly rival soccer fans hurled racist insults at him during the game, ultimately forcing him to leave the field in tears. According to the Associated Press, Luiz played through ‘monkey chants’ and other abuse, including a racist banner displayed by rival fans.
After Partizan won the match 1-0, the ongoing tension led to a tussle between players when Luiz gave the middle finger to the Rad supporters in retaliation. In a statement to Reuters, Luiz said, “I took 90 minutes of racist abuse and other insults from the terraces and thereafter I found myself in a cauldron of emotionless individuals who charged at me when they should have protected me. I want to forget this, refocus on football and urge everyone to say ‘No’ to racism.”
No one knows the full psychological impact of being born black in a biased society or how bigots can justify the senseless, cruel and callous treatment of others based on cultural and genetic differences, but it's apparent that no matter where in the world you are, there is no escaping the heavy weight of racism. In this case, Serbian fans who are known for making racist outbursts against black players, and Rad supporters who are notorious for displaying nationalist ultra-right behavior, are being penalized by the Serbian Football Association who have suspended Rad's stadium in Belgrade until further notice. Accountability is a good first step.
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