The FARE network has raised concerns about the continuing anti- gypsy racism in Romanian football. The concerns come after the latest Steaua vs. Rapid Bucharest derby match on Monday evening (24th September 2012).
The Bucharest National Arena became the venue for hateful racist chanting with the increasingly common chants of, “we have always hated and will always hate the Gypsyies”, and “die Gypsy” heard throughout the game.
Amongst the many racist banners displayed there was one that wrote, “Respect Eugen Grigore”. Grigore was a mass murderer who killed 24 Roma in the 1970s. The end of the match saw the remarkable sight of Steaua officials joining their fans in racist chanting.
The part owner of Steaua, and member of the European Parliament, Gigi Becali was quoted as citing the deaths of the Roma to motivate his fans, saying that Steau would win the game because “they (Roma) drown just before reaching the shore”.
‘Covered in tar and drowned’
The phrase derives from a punishment enacted on Roma during the many hundreds of years Roma were slaves of Romanian aristocrats and the Romanian Orthodox Church. Roma were covered in tar, rolled in feathers, and then thrown into a river. The aristocrats would watch them drown.
It may also relate to incidents during the Holocaust, when Romanian officers shot at boats transporting Roma over the river to Transnistria – many Roma drowned before reaching the shore.
FARE has been working in Romania with the Policy Centre who are one of the leading Roma rights bodies in Europe. Valeriu Nicolae from the centre and a member of the FARE Board said today,
“Issues go to the top”
“The events of this game demonstrate the extent of anti-Gypsy feeling in Romania. There can be no justification for the disgusting anti- Roma feeling in evidence here.
“The issues go right to the top. We must have leading politicians in Romania as well as those in charge of Romanian football take a similar stand for matches on the national level. Until now, the presidents of the Romanian Professional League and the Romanian Football Federation have yet to issue a strong statement against these actions.”
FARE spokesperson Piara Powar said “Anti- Roma feeling is endemic in many parts of central and Eastern Europe and is regularly on display inside football stadiums. It is time progressively minded supporters worked with us to organise and challenge this type of horrific abuse.
“At the same time we call on the Romanian FA and the Romanian Professional League to act decisively against the type of abuse we saw on Monday, the video evidence of what happened is clear and a line needs to be drawn.”
Read more from Valeriu Nicolae on his blog here:
Valeriu Nicolae Blog
Photos from the game show the banners that were in evidence:
Steaua – Rapid Racist Banners