Paris Saint-Germain forward Neymar says he was the target of a racist slur during the French champions’ 1-0 defeat by Olympique Marseille in Ligue 1 on Sunday. The player at the center of the storm is Marseille’s Álvaro González.
The 28-year-old was one of five players sent off during the match at PSG’s home stadium, Parc des Princes, after a full-scale brawl broke out on the pitch in injury time.
The forward struck González on the back of the head and was shown a straight red card by the referee.
As he left the pitch, the forward is believed to be telling the fourth official about an alleged incident of racist abuse – though he did not directly name the alleged Marseille player involved.
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In a series of tweets following the match, the Brazilian wrote: “The only regret I have is not hitting this idiot in the face.
“VAR catching my ‘aggression’ is easy … now I want to see the image of the racist who called me a ‘MONKEY SON OF A B*TCH.’ I’d really like that! If I do a ‘rainbow flick’ you punish me. For a slap, I’m sent off. And them? So what?”
(VAR refers to “Video Assistant Referee,” the system in place to review incidents in matches once the referee has made his initial decision.)
González himself took to Twitter, writing, “There is no place for racism. A clean career and with many teammates and friends on a day-to-day basis. Sometimes you have to learn how to lose and accept it on the field. Incredible three points today, Allez l’OM thank you family.”
Neymar then replied to González’s tweet, saying: “You are not a man to take responsibility for your mistake. Losing is part of sport. Insulting and bringing racism into our lives, no I don’t agree.
“I DON’T RESPECT YOU. YOU HAVE NO CHARACTER! Take responsibility for what you say. Be a MAN. RACIST!”
No place for racism
In post-match press conferences, both PSG manager Thomas Tuchel and Marseille manager André Villas-Boas stressed there was no place for racism in the game.
“Racism, in all societies, in football, in sport, in our lives, it can’t exist, that’s clear. But, honestly, I haven’t heard anything like that today, nor has the referee, of course,” said Tuchel.
According to Goal.com, who cited “Telefoot,” which is a French TV football show, Villas-Boas said: “There is no place for racism in football. It’s a serious fault if it happened but I don’t think so. Before that, we had a situation with a spit from Di Maria.
“These are things to avoid in the world of football. I hope it won’t be a black spot in this historic performance.”
CNN did not immediately hear back from González, Marseille and Ligue 1 when contacted for comment.
Later on Monday, Neymar, as well as the two clubs involved in the match, released statements.
After saying “the guy was a fool,” Neymar admitted in his post on Instagram – where he never directly addressed González by name – that he “also acted like a fool for letting me get involved in that.” The Brazilian also pointed out that “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.”
The Brazilian noted: “I thought I could not leave without doing something because I realized that those in charge would not do anything, did not notice or ignored the fact,” before ending his statement with the words, “you know what you said … I know what I did. More love to the world …”
Neymar’s club PSG offered a statement of support for its player, “who reported being subjected to racist abuse by an opposing player. The club restates that there is no place for racism in society, in football or in our lives and calls on everyone to speak out against all forms of racism throughout the world.”
Marseille named González in its statement but did not acknowledge the allegation of him making a racist remark, saying the Spanish defender was “not racist, as he has shown through his daily behavior since joining the club, and as his teammates have already confirmed …This controversy is serious and has already produced serious consequences. The club condemns the dissemination of the private telephone numbers of Alvaro Gonzalez and his relatives on Brazilian media and social networks overnight, giving rise to constant harassment – including death threats.”
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As for the match itself on Sunday, Florian Thauvin scored the game’s only goal when he converted Dimitri Payet’s long free kick into the PSG box in the first half.
The heated affair ended with 14 cards being shown – five of which were red – as Marseille won at the Parc des Princes for the first time since February 2010.
Villas-Boas, meanwhile, added on the incident: “Neymar was a little bit annoyed with this situation, I hope there is nothing, I hope it won’t put darkness on this victory […] Alvaro is an experienced player. Obviously, there is no room for racism in football, but I don’t think that was the case.”
As well as Neymar, PSG’s Layvin Kurzawa and Leandro Paredes and Marseille’s Jordan Amavi and Darío Benedetto were all dismissed as a result of the brawl in the game’s closing stages.
The result means PSG, which was beaten by Bayern Munich in last month’s Champions League final, is now 18th in Ligue 1, albeit after just two games, having lost to Lens in its season opener.