The Dutch fans were filmed in Plaza Mayor, the Spanish capital’s main square, hurling coins onto the floor in front of several Roma women, and then cheering when the women picked up the money. Reports in the Spanish press say the incident ended when Spanish passersby intervened.
A reminder of what the Roma face
Federación de Asociaciones Gitanas de Cataluña (FAGiC), an umbrella organisations of 90 Roma associations, criticised the behaviour:
“What we witnessed in Plaza Mayor is a reminder of the discrimination faced by Europe’s largest ethnic minority. Across Europe, Roma people are marginalised and victims of segregation, discrimination and poverty.
“We are dismayed that this was amusing to anyone, let alone people from a wealthy European nation that have never experienced the lives of the Roma, whom they have attempted to humiliate. FAGIC is appalled by the behaviour of these fans.”
Outraged by the incident the Madrid-based anti-racist group Movimiento contra la Intolerancia (MCI) called on public prosecutors and the Spanish Supreme Council of Sports to punish the fans involved in the incident for their “humiliating racist behaviour”.
MCI President Esteban Ibarra said: “The degrading and humiliating actions of PSV Eindhoven fans in Plaza Mayor towards a group of Roma beggars, which were followed by insults and racist expressions, are criminal offences prosecutable by the Spanish Penal Code, established to act upon those who damage the dignity of individuals and groups due to their ethnicity or nationality”.
Krkic calls incident ‘shameful’, supporters club apologise
Harrie Timmermans, President of the PSV supporters club, apologised for the incident saying it was “not nice to look at”.
“You don’t throw money at people, everyone agrees on that. We are sorry that this has happened” said Timmermans.
Spanish-born Stoke City striker Bojan Krkić is among those who commented on the incident on Twitter: “This sort of behaviour is shameful and doesn’t represent the true football fan or those of us who love the game.”
In less than a month, on 8 April, the international community will celebrate the International Roma Day and the need for Roma rights.
In 2015, FAGiC organised a nation-wide conference during the Football People action weeks to highlight football’s power to bring about a positive social change to Roma people. The sport’s unifying power has been used by the organisation to bring people together and challenge stereotypes.