Neymar says racism exists, but it has to be stopped

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Paris: Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) striker Neymar has said he could not leave the field without responding to Alvaro Gonzalez after claiming the officials ignored his accusations of racism against the Marseille defender.

Neymar was one of five players sent off on Sunday as Marseille clinched their first victory against PSG in nine years after Andre Villas Boas’ side beat PSG 1-0 in a game which will be remembered for aggressive fouls and a late brawl. 

The Brazilian was sent off for slapping Gonzalez in injury-time, who he accused of racism as he left the field and also on social media following the match.

In a lengthy post on Instagram, Neymar has now said he “acted like a fool” to earn a red card but said that it is important that those in power reflect on the role of racism in sport.

“Yesterday I revolted. I was punished with red because I wanted to hit someone who offended me,” Neymar said. 

“I thought I could not leave without doing something because I realised that those in charge would not do anything, did not notice or ignored the fact. During the game, I wanted to answer as always: playing football. The facts showed that I did not succeed. I revolted…

“In our sport, aggressions, insults, swearing are part of the game, of the dispute. You can’t be affectionate. I understand this guy partly, all is part of the game, but racism and intolerance are unacceptable.

“I am black, son of black, grandson and great-grandson of black also. I am proud and do not see myself as different from anyone. Yesterday, I wanted those in charge of the game (referees, assistants) to position themselves impartially and to understand that there is no longer such a place for a prejudiced attitude.

“Reflecting and seeing all the manifestation of what happened, I am saddened by the feeling of hatred that we can provoke when, in the heat of the moment, we snap.

“Should I have ignored it? I don’t know yet… Today, with a cool head, I say yes, but in due course, my companions and I asked the referees for help and we were ignored. That’s the point!