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Men's Football Portuguese leaders stand in solidarity with racially abused Moussa Marega

THE president and the prime minister of Portugal added their voices today to the worldwide outcry over the horrific racist abuse aimed at FC Porto’s Moussa Marega who walked off the field after hearing monkey chants.

Sunday also saw Derby defender Max Lowe speak out against then-BBC Radio Derby pundit Craig Ramage after he suggested “young black lads” should “go back to basics, working hard.”

Ramage made the comment on Saturday evening and 24 hours later lost his job, with a BBC spokesperson saying: “These were entirely unacceptable comments and we will no longer be working with Craig.”

Anti-racism campaign group Kick It Out said that they “fully support Max Lowe’s decision to call out the indefensible comments made against black players on @BBCDerby. These pervasive, lazy narratives do nothing to encourage a game free from discrimination.”

On the Marega incident, they added: “This [video] is really tough to watch. The blatant disregard for protocol is unacceptable, and players should be united and walk off together in their condemnation of racism, instead of this. 

“We stand with Moussa Marega.”

Portuguese President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa said he “vehemently condemns any display of racism.” Prime Minister Antonio Costa added that “all and any acts of racism are a crime and are intolerable.”

“No human being should be subjected to this humiliation,” wrote Costa, whose father was from Mozambique. “We cannot just stand by.”

The striker from Mali was visibly angered by monkey noises targeting him after he scored Porto’s second goal in a 2-1 win at Guimaraes in the Portuguese league on Sunday. Several Porto and opposition players attempted to dissuade him from walking off the field in the 71st minute, when he demanded to be substituted.

Marega wrote on his Instagram account that “idiots” went to the stadium to shout racist insults.

He also lashed out at the referee, who gave Marega a yellow card, apparently for his refusal to continue playing. He said the referee should have defended Marega.

Under Uefa protocols to tackle racism, the referee is meant to: “Stop the match and instruct the stadium authorities to read out an announcement, calling upon the spectators to stop the discriminatory behaviour.”

Step two continues: “If this announcement does not have the desired effect, make another announcement, suspend the match and send the players to their dressing rooms for a specific period.”

And finally, step three: “After consultation, abandon the match if the discriminatory behaviour still does not cease or breaks out again.” 

The harrowing scenes as Marega attempted to pull away from his teammates and stormed off the field were unprecedented in Portugal. The country has not witnessed the growth of far-right political parties or movements seen elsewhere in Europe in recent years. Television channels and radio stations yesterday dedicated phone-in programmes to the incident.

It was the latest racist incident to tarnish football in Europe over the past 18 months, despite widespread condemnation and efforts to stop it from officials involved in the game and in keeping public order.

Porto coach Sergio Conceicao said he and his club felt “outraged” by the racism, adding that the monkey chants began during the pre-game warm-up.

“We are a family, whatever our nationality, skin colour, height, hair colour,” he said. “What happened here was pitiful.”

FC Porto said in a statement it stood by Marega, adding it “was compelled to take drastic action” after repeated racist slurs during the game. The club said the insults were “a low point in the recent history of Portuguese soccer and must be punished appropriately.”

The Portuguese league said the behaviour of some fans in the stadium “shame soccer and human dignity.” It said in a statement that Marega “could no longer bear the insults targeted at him and chose to leave the game.”

The league will do everything in its power to impose punishments and stamp out racism, the statement said.

Portuguese police said they were not immediately able to identify who hurled the abuse at Marega inside the stadium because of the large crowd. However, officers were investigating yesterday, reportedly including by sifting through closed-circuit TV images taken inside the stadium.

Racist insults and threats carry a prison sentence of up to five years.

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