When Paris Saint-Germain hosted Marseille at the Stade de France back on September 13th, the game of football that took place was secondary in the news.
Despite Marseille taking 3 points for the first time since 2011 and PSG’s defeat meaning they’d lost their opening two league games for the first time since 1984/85, Florian Thauvin’s goal was forgotten after a mass brawl in injury time saw five players sent off.
Layvin Kurzawa, Leandro Paredes, Neymar, Jordan Amavi and Dario Benedetto were all given red cards following a VAR review to clear up the mess but something cameras seemed to miss at the time of the event was Neymar claiming he was racially abused by defender Alvaro Gonzalez.
Following the match, footage emerged of Neymar telling the officials of a racist comment during the game. He appeared on social media after the game claiming that his only regret was not hitting Alvaro harder for his racial abuse. He was met with support by neutral fans and Alvaro was rightly chastised when video footage emerged of him calling Neymar a “monkey”.
However it has now also emerged that Neymar was also guilty of racism in the same game, to Japanese defender Hiroki Sakai. It’s alleged, with video evidence, that Neymar called the Marseille man a “Chinese shit” during the game in the middle of yet another flare up that he was involved in.
There are talks in the media of anything from a six game ban to a twenty match ban for both Neymar and Alvaro should they be found guilty of the claims put to them. For me, it’s not enough.
If we’re so united that racism should be kicked out of football, then kick it out of football. Ban them both for life.
When a fan is found guilty of racially abusing a player from the stands, they are given a lifetime ban from the club and usually some sort of criminal punishment too whether that be a fine or a banning order. Players shouldn’t be exempt from these things either.
Playing professional football, especially at the top level, is a privilege. One reserved for the top percentile of talented athletes among humans on Earth. Granted, they can’t all be nice guys. But some fans seem to pick and choose their stance depending on club or talent level. That is nonsense.
Neymar is one of my favourite footballers and one of the best talents in the world, undisputedly. But if the video is proven to be genuine and he has said what it’s alleged he said, he should be kicked out of the game. Regardless of talent level, these guys are all humans. They have a right to be on the football pitch and not face racial abuse from anyone.
Obviously as a football fan I want the best football players to play on the biggest stage, but it doesn’t sit right with me. It didn’t sit right with me when Suarez was welcomed back with open arms after an eight-game ban, it didn’t sit right with me when John Terry was welcomed back with open arms after a four-game ban and it doesn’t sit right with me now.
It may seem harsh and it may seem excessive but for me it shows a true zero tolerance approach to racism in football, something they so often talk about.
There’s no chance it happens. We’re talking about the same organisations who fined Nicklas Bendtner more for wearing Paddy Power pants and going against sponsorship rules than they did international FA’s for racism.
Neymar being racially abusive before he was racially abused doesn’t take away from the fact Alvaro is also a nasty piece of work and he should be banned for life too.
If football is serious about having ‘no room for racism’, then they’ll take steps to literally kick it out of their game.