Second racism issue pressures Spanish football into action

A new incident of racism in the Spanish La Liga has increased the pressure on the country’s football authorities to take action against discrimination in the game.

A week after the Brazilian international and FC Barcelona defender Daniel Alves was subjected to racial abuse in Villarreal, Levante midfielder Papakouli Diop was the target of monkey chants on Sunday (4 May).

At the end of Levante’s victory over Atlético Madrid in Valencia, the Senegalese player had an altercation at the corner flag with a section of Atlético supporters, in front of watching police. The player has said the fans began to make monkey gestures.

In response, the 28-year-old pointed to his head before launching into a dance routine mocking the fans.

'The monkey chanting has to stop'
"It's an issue that has affected me a lot. I went to take a corner and part of the Atlético support began doing monkey chants," Diop said.

"To take the heat out of the situation, I started to dance, but I didn't insult anyone. I don't have anything against the Atlético supporters because it was only a section of them that shouted at me. I think it's disrespectful that it happens at all stadiums. It's a provocation… the monkey chanting has to be stopped now" he added.

Following the two incidents Javier Tebas, President of the Spanish Professional Football League (LFP), announced yesterday that all professional clubs will have to attend a mandatory course on discrimination to prevent and tackle similar incidents in stadiums.

Campaigners talk of deep-rooted racism
After the Alves incident on 27 April, Fare members in Spain have called for action against deep-rooted racism in the country.

"Despite the decreasing number of racist incidents in Spanish football since the 80's, what happened in Villarreal shows that the problem is still present at all levels of football in our country" said Ferran Marin, a representative of RDC Espanyol’s shareholders group Associació de Petits i Mitjans Accionistes de l'Espanyol (APMAE).

“It is extremely important that we use this incident to send a clear message. Football is respect and it is up to us, supporters, to help stamp out intolerance,” said Gonzalo Serrano, President of the LGBT Federación ARCO IRIS, urging for more self–regulation from fans.

Despite of the lack of a national level anti-discrimination organisation in Spanish football, the growth of the player-led social media campaign #somostodosmacacos ("we are all monkeys"), and Villareal's reaction was seen, at first, as an effective response to the incident.

“The club’s decision should be set as an example on how to deal with perpetrators.” said Carlos de Cárcer, a representative of the NGO Red Deporte y Cooperación.

However, Daniel Alves, who has consistently raised the criticised the issue of racism in Spain, felt Villarreal’s action was not enough.

"There is racism against foreigners. They sell the country as being first world but in certain things they are very backward" the player told Brazil's Radio Globo.

“If I could, I would put a photo of the fan on the internet so that he would be shamed," he added.

‘We are not monkeys’
In Brazil, last week’s anti-racism campaign sparked controversy as campaigners and the country’s Minister of Racial Equality considered it a reinforcement of a stereotype.

“The link between the word ‘monkey’ and black people is very strong. Trivialising this can reinforce the stereotype.” explained the Brazilian minister of Racial Equality, Luiza Bairros.

“I understand the campaign and its aim, but it is almost impossible to ensure that its impact will change the negative connotation that the word ‘monkey’ has when related to the black community”.

On the campaign, the Brazilian anti-discrimination organisation Unegro Parana wrote on Facebook, “If you want to campaign against racism help tackle the abuse, don’t adopt it. Racists will keep cursing and throwing bananas and even worst, they will now have an excuse to do so because ‘we are all monkeys’”.

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