We should always fight for a more equal and less discriminatory world, be it through the way we act on our daily lives, or by denouncing any attitude we perceive as demeaning to any other party due to its culture, religious belief, sexual orientation or skin colour.
In a world that is becoming increasingly less tolerant to racial discrimination, we can certainly see many signs that, little by little, we are building towards a world that is more equal. One of these signs has been shown tonight, during a match of the most popular sport in the globe.
It happened during the football match between PSG vs Istanbul Başakşehir, valid for the UEFA’s Champions League, which was suspended following an alleged racist incident involving the 4th official towards Istanbul’s assistant manager. As the referee went to consult with the 4th official to find out what had happened during a discussion over one of the referees’ decisions, heatedly contested by Istanbul’s assistant manager, the 4th official pointed out the assistant and referred to him as “the black guy”.
The assistant manager protested over this discrimination, and this prompted players from both teams to walk off the pitch, refusing to resume the match until the issue was resolved and properly reviewed. This show of solidarity is a hopeful display that humanity is growing more conscious and less tolerant towards all kinds of discrimination. The fact that it happened during one of the world’s most popular entertainment events is all the more important, as it brings the still very real issue of racism to light, broadcast globally and into public debate.
PSG vs Istanbul Basaksehir has been suspended following an alleged racist incident involving the 4th official towards Istanbul's assistant manager. pic.twitter.com/mLIkZiPK7u
— Champions League on CBS Sports (@UCLonCBSSports) December 8, 2020
A few observers and the 4th official himself have correctly pointed out that, since the referee is Romanian, the word for “black” is “negru” in his native tongue. True. However, the bigger issue remains: it is not about syntax or the poor choice of words, if that ever was what transpired in the heat of the moment: rather, the act of referring to anyone by their skin colour should not and in fact is no longer being tolerated by a world that embraces all colours.
This rationale was actually expressed by Istanbul’s Senegalese football player, Demba Ba, during his altercation with the 4th official, as you can watch below:
Demba Ba raising an interesting point pic.twitter.com/B7fdqjbSSQ
— tariq panja (@tariqpanja) December 8, 2020
At the time of writing, reports say that Demba Ba and PSG captain Marquinhos agreed upon the restarting of the match, and that all players would reenter the pitch hand-in-hand. However, many of Istanbul Başakşehir players said they were not ready to play, and the match is likely to be resumed tomorrow.