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Thursday, December 01, 2005

Marco Andre Zoro

The Messina full back and Ivory Coast international, Marco Andre Zoro, took a defiant stand against racist abuse in the home match to Internazionale last Sunday. Persistent monkey chants and other racial abuse had been directed at him by some of Inter's fans'... and 21 minutes into the second half he had enough of it. He picked up the ball and approached the referee to request the match be suspended.

As far as I'm aware I've not heard of a player taking this ultimate action, and I'm moved by Zoro's decision to undertake it. Eventually, Adriano, Martins, Materazzi and the referee persuaded Zoro that the match should go on. Zoro said:

“I don’t want to be an attention-seeker, but I won’t have people coming to my stadium, to my home, and shouting racist insults at me. I agreed to go back onto the field only because I didn’t want to make Inter Milan lose the match, or to be disrespectful to the other players”.

The shocking racial abuse directed at black England players in Madrid last year highlighted to an English audience that racist chants is far from being eradicated on the continent of Europe. There was talk that Sven should have called his players off the pitch: and so make the ultimate demonstration of football's intolerance of racism.

Zoro decided that he must take this action in protest at the unacceptable treatment he was receiving. The fact that it highlighted to a global audience the racist abuse targeted at him, and that more has to be done by the Italian football authorities to tackle this problem, is vindication alone for his courageous decision.


Blogger BlindJak said...

Why does it always have to come to something like this before the authorities act?

I was pleased to read yesterday that UEFA have now approached MEP’s in Brussels to ratify a declaration that would give them the power to expel club and national associations from competition for persistent racism (shouldn’t they have this power anyway as the European games governing body?).

But racism has been rife on the continent for years with no action taken. I also get the feeling that it won’t be taken seriously until one team or other are banned as the previous punishments for racist behaviour have been worse than laughable.

Let’s just hope that this is not all hot air bluster and that some serious progress is finally made on blight of the beautiful game.

12/01/2005 12:36 pm

Blogger RedsMan said...

Superb article, T, and that's not a bias opinion. Anyone else could have written that article and I would praise it the same way. Blindjak, thank you for the link to reuters.

You know how I despise those who wish to be disrespectful during a minute's silence, or applause, as well as those who feel inclined to propel objects onto the pitch. I equally despise racist chanting and gestures.

What is wrong with those Inter fans, those who were responsible? Not enough to have had Inter's Champions League home games behind closed doors, that their team has black players too, they resort to despicable behaviour that goes further to taint the club's support.

There are two sides to this issue, emphasised by Zoro, Adriano and Martins. Zoro was right to pick up the implement that allows the flow of football, without which football cannot go further, so play is totally stopped. Going further to pass over the ball to the fourth official, not the referee, is an indication that the fourth official is there to oversee all that happens in connection to the game, the fans, the management of both teams, the referee, linesmen or women, and the fans. Any incident as a result of conduct within the fans section is reported too. The episode reduce the player to tears, highlights the importance of needing a directive to deal with and eradicate this disgraceful behaviour and attitude. As I said to those who were disgraceful during George Best's respects, stay away and keep it to yourself. The football stadium is for all, ALL, and prejudice is not welcomed. PERIOD. It's bad enough that such people have allowed the ignorancy of prejudice to effect them, they wish to spread it elsewhere. Stopping the game the Zoro way will quiet them down. If so, the majority who wish to watch the match and do not share the same values of the ignorants, will turn on them and shame them.

The other side is that shown by Adriano and Martins. Come of the pitch and refuse to come back on and allow these ignorants their want, allow them to get to you. They cause the game to stop, which spoils it for the decent majority. Ignore them and leave them, the match supersedes and thats the main thing. It has been going on for years and players refuse to be effected by it. Prove to them that their chanting and gestures are to no avail.

I see positiveness in both sides but just about prefer the latter one. While such actions as Zoro's are just in such a situation, allowing these ignorants to effect the game would provide an uncomfortable precedent, and quite simply the ignorants should be allowed nothing in their favour. That includes knowing they have gotten to a player. Play on and let football prevail, that is what players and management gather together for, officials, fans, TV camera, reporters, and the like.

I'm all for the Belgain idea of the stripes on faces, so you can constantly be reminded of the cause throughout the game. But I echo blindjak's comments, it is now high time that higher authority came into play to stamp down on this behaviour. UEFA alongside the European Parliament aim to discuss a declaration to be implemented throughout Europe, and it is to do so without fail. Players remain focused on the game and simply block out the ignorants, allow officials to identifiy and deal with them until a declaration is passed that should deal with these ignorants once and for all.


12/01/2005 5:02 pm

Blogger Skippy said...

racism should not have a place anywhere. Unfortunately, it goes on. Thierry was talking about it on Parkinson last Saturday, and I agree with what he said, if you walk off the pitch you let the racist win.

12/01/2005 11:28 pm

Blogger Abdul said...

I have to disagree with you on this one Skippy. The footballing authorities (particularly in Itlay and Spain) currently do very little to combat this scourge. Wearing little elastic bands round your wrists, doing the odd advert and putting tiny advertising hoardings near the corner flags in stadiums will also not solve anything. The only way to really shut these racists up is by actions - not words.

I wish more players would take Zorro's stance. If someone like Thierry Henry were to walk off a pitch beacuse of racist abuse, it would be the ultimate statement of intolerance on racism. Continuing to play means that there are no repurcussions whatsoever for racists.

12/02/2005 10:56 am

Blogger RedsMan said...

I strongly see Abdul's POV. I meant to include in my comments that while I support the Belgian proposal of white and black stripes on faces, and any other such peaceful measures, it is another tiny step towards stamping hard on the behaviour. Kick Racism Out slogans are, at best, warming reminders but the ignorants simply bypass the messages. We can hit them as equally as they wish to hit others. Especially if we are the majority, we have the support to do so.

Do we continue to allow them their stage to attempt to interrupt that which is clearly positive for all? Walking off the pitch is a sting in the tail, for sure, for the ignorants are there for the football in part, but spoiling the game therefore for the majority, there can be another answer. Need I make suggestions? I shouldn't have to, unless UEFA and the European Parliament wish to consult myself for any notions, because anyone can submit ideas on what to do with these ignorants.

Stewards and security personnel are employed at every ground.
I dont wish to add any more burden to football clubs to increase the number of staff at their respective grounds, the current amount should be adequate. Once chanting, abuse and gestures are conducted, identify and eject those responsible forthwith. Whether they are to be banned from grounds indefinitely is a question for the football club concerned. But they are inconveniencing as pests and should be removed. It's a pity they do not exist in the Middle Ages, heads would literally roll.

UEFA and FIFA should advance further on this problem and bring football back to that which it has grown up on, passion, pride, entertainment, competitiveness, and a bastion for young talent.


12/02/2005 11:14 am

Blogger T said...

BJ, I totally agree with your sentiments and thanx for providing the link to the Reuters article.

Like Redsman, I see the merits of either POV re walking off the pitch. I used to be totally in the TH school, but after reading and seeing the pictures of Zoro's protest I now support the right of any individual footballer to make this decision. At the least, it should galvanise stewards and the police to take immediate action and then allow the game to quickly restart; plus concentrate the minds of football authorities to take the problem much more seriously.

Redsman, to add to the possible punishments you have outlined that can act as an effective deterrent, I would also like to see racists have to pay out really substantial fines for their behaviour. There must be an end to abuse with impunity.

12/02/2005 7:06 pm

Blogger T said...

Just to add that despite a 5 mintue delay of the normal kick-off time in Italy to protest against racism in the aftermath of the Zoro incident, Patrick Vieira was on the receiving end of constant racial abuse when Juve played at Fiorentina yesterday.

12/05/2005 11:28 am


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