A leading Spanish referee has attacked the failure of the country's football authorities to deal with racist abuse and pledged his support to any black players who decide to walk off the pitch in protest.
Primera Liga referee, Eduardo Iturralde Gonzalez, made his claims in the Spanish sports daily Marca. He said,
“Those people who should be facing up to this problem are not doing so and it is a big problem. Of course I notice it when I am on the pitch. You hear everything there. And I'll tell you one thing, the day a black player decides to walk off the pitch I'll go with him. No one is doing anything to find solutions to this problem.”
Racist abuse from fans has become an increasing problem in Spain, with black players regularly greeted with monkey chants and insults when they touch the ball. The Spanish Football Federation does not take action against the clubs involved unless incidents are mentioned in the referee's match report, but often referees fail to mention it. Referee Fernando Carmona Mendez noted that the behaviour of the fans was “normal” in his report, when Barcelona's Samuel Eto'o was racially abused recently.
The toughest punishment the Federation has imposed so far has been a fine of 600 euros on Atletico Madrid and Albacete after visiting black players were abused by home fans. Albacete's fine was later halved upon appeal.