Valenciennes captain, Abdeslam Ouaddou, in fans racism row21 February 2008

Valenciennes captain Abdeslam Ouaddou has filed a legal complaint after being racially abused by a spectator during the 2-1 Ligue 1 defeat at Metz.

“The police officers asked me to file a complaint so that this person could be punished and maybe banned from the stadium,” Ouaddou said Saturday night after the game, which Metz won 2-1.
A furious Ouaddou walked towards the stands at half-time to remonstrate with a Metz fan who had repeatedly insulted him. He was forced back to the pitch by stewards and received a yellow card.

“The club supports Abdes in this ordeal,” a Valenciennes club statement read. “Such insults should never take place, in a stadium or elsewhere.”

The 38-year-old supporter, whose was not part of a supporters’ official organization, was being questioned by police. He was put under a judicial control on 18th February and could face a six-month sentence and a 22.500 euros fine. His case is due to be judged on 18th March.

“The words were very strong,” former Fulham and Rennes defender Ouaddou said after the match. “I told the referee about it but he told me to concentrate on the match. The insults continued so I walked towards that person. I wanted an explanation.”

LFP president Frederic Thiriez suggested referee Damien Ledentu could have stopped the match. “Regarding refereeing, instructions were given at the start of the season on how to react in case of racist incidents,” Thiriez said. “The referees now have more room to act and can go as far as stopping a match, temporarily or definitely.”

Club Metz, the French League, the French Football Association and LICRA have also filed complaints.

LICRA has emphasized “Ouaddou‘s bravery and his public-spiritedness”.
The French antiracist organization questioned “the desertion of the persons who were responsible to make sure a football match go smoothly, and who were in charge of protecting the players. That is why Abdeslam Ouaddou was compelled last Saturday to shoulder the responsibilities of the referees, the stewards, and the French League delegate representative. He went beyond his own role because he had no choice, unfortunately”.

LICRA is asking for more courage and responsibility from the main football actors (managers, referees, stewards, etc) and more generally of all citizens, to fight these kinds of acts.