MEPS including the European Parliament Anti-Racism and Diversity Intergroup, Co-President Member of European Parliament Samira Rafaela (RENEW EUROPE) and others wrote to UEFA after a spate of discriminatory incidents including most recently the racist slurs and Nazi salutes aimed at Ahmad Mendes Moreira from the stands at a game in the second tier of Dutch professional football.
Moreira was subjected to the racist abuse while playing for FC Excelsior in the game against FC Den Bosch. The match was stopped, and after the game Dutch clubs announced a nationwide protest from players, who refused to play in the first minute of games to highlight and take a stand against racism.
Contents of the letter sent by MEPs to UEFA included three key demands:
- A guarantee that the three-step protocol is properly enforced by match officials at games including the following of Step Two to send players to the dressing room and Step Three to abandon the match in the event that racist abuse is heard/reported;
- A move away from symbolic sanctions and instead the imposing of significant sanctions in the cases of repeated racism and discrimination in stadiums, including the potential expulsion of clubs and countries from tournaments;
- Increased investment and support for anti-racism and discrimination education initiatives.
MEP Samira Rafaela’s statement on the letter read as follows:
“The [Netherlands] incident is part of a pattern in all European competitions that has existed for decades. Enough is enough. Racism is unacceptable, no matter the circumstances.”
“Football is Europe’s most popular sport with millions around the world playing the game themselves either competitively or purely for recreation.
“A select group of talented players is able to play professionally. These pros draw hundreds of thousands of fans to stadiums on a weekly basis. Millions more watch their favourite teams on television or through web streaming. Football has been called the beautiful game for good reason. There is beauty in the joy of winning, and in the pain of loss. The racism however should not be part of it. It taints the beautiful game.
“When the Netherlands became European champions in 2017, I was as happy as any of my compatriots. That happiness contrasts with the anger and sadness I feel when racism rears its ugly head in stadiums. That ugly face should go.”