After Neymar accuses foe of racial slur, French Football Federation prez says racism in sports 'does not exist'

Doug McIntyre
·2 min read
French Football Federation of soccer (FFF) President Noel Le Graet reacts during a news conference at the FFF headquarters in Paris, France, December 10, 2015. Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema has been suspended indefinitely from the France team because of the blackmail case he is embroiled in, the president of the national soccer federation (FFF) said on Thursday.  REUTERS/Charles Platiau
French Football Federation president Noël Le Graët. (Charles Platiau/Reuters)

Two days after Paris Saint-Germain superstar Neymar accused an opponent of calling him a monkey during a Ligue 1 match, French Football Federation president Noël Le Graët insisted Tuesday that there is little to no racism in the world of sports.

“When a Black guy scores a goal, the whole stadium is on its feet,” Le Graët said in a televised interview with French business news outlet BFM. “This phenomenon of racism in sport, and in football in particular, does not exist at all or barely exists.”

The controversial comments come on the heels of Sunday’s testy game between PSG and longtime rival Olympique Marseille. Five players were sent off during the contest, which ended with an on-field brawl.

Neymar was issued a straight red card for slapping Marseille’s Alvaro Gonzalez on the back of the head. The Brazilian forward said later that he reacted because Gonzalez had directed the epithet toward him.

Gonzalez denied the claim on social media, posting a picture of himself surrounded by Black teammates. But Neymar doubled down on the charge even as he apologized for lashing out in a lengthy Instagram post.

“Racism exists,” he wrote. “We have to stop it. No more. Enough!”

Instead of addressing or even acknowledging a problem that has plagued sports and the world beyond throughout history, Le Graët slammed Neymar and the other players who saw red for ruining the spectacle of Sunday’s hotly anticipated tilt. “They were not able to keep their cool, nor give the show that we were expecting.”

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