Racist incident in Chilean first tier football sparks debate in the country12 November 2014

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On Friday’s (7 November) encounter between O’Higgins and San Marcos de Arica, the Caracas-born forward Emilio Rentería was subjected to racist and xenophobic gestures and abuse by a group of the home team’s fans. The game was halted for some minutes.

“Football has the grace and disgrace of reflecting what happens in society, all its cultural aspects, of which racism is one” said Lorena Fries, Director of the Chilean National Institute of Human Rights.

Chilean Government and FA condemn the abuse
Following the incident, O’Higgins launched an investigation to identify the fans involved in the incident, while football and political authorities in Chile united in support of the player and pledged action.

Yesterday, the country’s Minister Secretary General of Government Álvaro Elizalde and Sports Minister Natalia Riffo welcomed the Venezuela international in the La Moneda Palace, in Santiago, to stress the Government’s commitment to address the incident.

Talking to the media, Álvaro Elizalde said: “In Chile we cannot tolerate either racism or xenophobia. We are building a society that is all about respecting diversity. We are always going to welcome all our Latin American brothers.

“Incidents like the one last Friday at the O’Higgins v San Marcos de Arica match are unacceptable. Sport should be used to amuse and pass on good values, not to discriminate. Under no circumstances can we accept racist abuse”.

Chile’s Minister Secretary General of Government also welcomed the prompt response of the football authorities.

“All relevant actors have energetically condemned the abuse, including the national Football Association, the Players’ Union, the players themselves and, now, the government”.

After an emergency meeting, on Monday, the Chilean FA (ANFP) said it would forward the case to its Disciplinary Court and request a sanction that reflects the seriousness of the incident.

On the day, ANFP President Sergio Jadue also met the ambassador of Venezuela in Chile, Arévalo Enrique Méndez Romero, to reiterate the governing body’s commitment for action and explain the proceedings.

“We expressed our concerns on what happened to Emilio Rentería to the ambassador, and stressed that the ANFP has already reported the incident to the sport’s court to sanction the abuse”.

‘I hope it doesn’t happen to anyone again’ says Rentería
In his first interview after the incident, the 30-year old player said:”I think the football authorities and clubs should take action and take care of those who were in the wrong.

“At the beginning I felt sad and angry, but I had the support of my family. On my end, I am not going to report anyone because I don’t think it is necessary. I just hope it doesn’t happen to anyone again.”

Renteria