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The president and prime minister of Portugal have spoken out Monday morning after a black FC Porto soccer player was subjected to monkey chants and attempted to walk off the pitch for a substitution over the weekend.
Moussa Marega, a Malian striker, attempted to leave the game while teammates tried to prevent him from doing so during a 2-1 win at Guimarães in the Portuguese Primeira Liga. It’s yet another ugly incident of racism in soccer, which (thankfully) has yet to surface much in Portugal, per the Associated Press.
Marega attempts to walk off pitch after racist chants
Marega, 28, used to play for Guimarães and scored the game-winner against them in the 60th minute for Porto. In response, fans started making chants of monkey noises toward him.
Marega then attempted to walk off, but was continuously stopped by teammates who at some points forcibly tried to keep him from making forward momentum.
It went on for three minutes and included players from both teams arguing with Marega. Porto coach Sérgio Conceição also spoke with him on the pitch.
Marega eventually got a sub and pointed his thumbs downward as he entered the tunnel. The crowd then jeered him.
Marega responds, calls fans ‘idiots’
Marega posted a photo on Instagram of him flipping off the fans as he was leaving the pitch, telling the “idiots who come to the stadium to make racist screams” to go “f— themselves.”
“And I also thank the referees for not defending me and for giving me a yellow card because I defend my skin color. I hope I never meet you on a football field again! YOU ARE A SHAME !!!!”
Conceição also spoke out about the behavior and said the fans were insulting Marega before the match.
“We are indignant with what has happened. Moussa was insulted from warmups (before kickoff),” Conceição said after the match.
“We are a family. One’s nationality, color, or height does not matter. We are human beings. We deserve respect and what happened was despicable.”
Both clubs released statements condemning the abuse. FC Porto said it is “in solidarity” with Marega, “who was led to take a drastic attitude in the walk of repeated racist insults.”
Portugal leaders speak out in solidarity with Marega
Prime Minister António Costa called acts of racism “criminal and intolerable” on Twitter. He condemned the acts and wrote he stood in “total solidarity” with Marega, who he credited as a great player and also a great citizen.
President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa said via the Associated Press he “vehemently condemns any display of racism.”
“Portugal’s Constitution very clearly condemns racism, as well as any other forms of xenophobia and discrimination,” he said.
The AP called the incident “unprecedented in Portugal”, which has not seen the growth of far-right political parties or movements like other countries have.
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