There have been numerous accounts of European soccer fans exhibiting increasingly racist tendencies during matches. The continent’s teams at all levels feature players from all over the world, but foreign-born or dark-skinned players are singled out even by fans of the player’s club.
Clubs and leagues have wrung their hands over this issue, worrying about alienating the fan base while at least theoretically attempting to protect their players. The organizations and clubs’ solutions sometimes are so bad that it only seemed to make matters worse.
Fans say, “Nazis out.”
Calling for a stop to this behavior, German fans at the third-tier Preussen Munsters match against Wurzburger Kickers chanted “Nazis out” as a fan sitting in the Munsters’ section made monkey noises aimed at black German-born player Leroy Kwadwo, whose family is from Ghana. Towards the end of the match, Kwadwo stopped the game to point out the racist fan in the stands.
The fan was identified by fellow Munster supporters around him who then started a “Nazis out” chant taken up by others in the stands. Stewards removed him from the stadium. He was subsequently arrested.
Players on both sides, as well as officials, then approached the 23-year-old Kwadwo on the pitch to offer their support while many fans stood and cheered.
Kwadwo backs actions with words
Kwadwo also released a statement after the match. In part, it read:
“This just makes me sad. Even though I have a different skin color, I was born here in this wonderful country that has given me and my family so much and made things possible. I am one of you, I live here and I’m able to live out my calling and passion as a professional Würzburger Kickers player.
So something like yesterday just makes me sad and angry, because everyone should know: Racism doesn’t belong in OUR world. We all have the opportunity to tackle it and prevent the whole thing from happening.”