Speaking to the media Francisco Fernández Abad, vice-president of CD Olímpico said Etienne has been subjected to racism since the beginning of the season and criticised the lack of action of referees and match officials in addressing the problem.
“I think the fact that is a very good player has in some way increased the abuse, they are trying to reduce his confidence; but, there is no right in this, he can’t be the victim of such insults” said Abad.
Following incidents on the last three rounds of the amateur league targeting Etienne, the club has given the coach and players the permission to walk off the pitch whenever similar incidents take place.
“We call on referees to intervene and condemn this type of behaviour; so far, the racist slurs were only included in last match report, and it only happened because we asked” added Abad.
On Sunday 20 November, ahead of their match against Río San Pedro, CD Olímpico will bring together fans and the general public to display support to the player and call for action.
Spanish second division team Cádiz CF and their fan group Brigadas Amarillas were among the first to support the initiative and engage in a social media awareness-raising campaign titled #TodosSomosEtienne (ENG ‘We are all Etienne’).
El Domingo tenemos una cita en el IRIGOYEN a las 13:00, mostraremos todo nuestro apoyo a Etienne, en Cádiz no hay hueco para el racismo! pic.twitter.com/iL84F2e7nr
— Brigadas Amarillas (@BA1982Oficial) November 16, 2016
Football bodies and NGOs back anti-racist gathering
The region’s football federation, Real Federación Andaluza de Fútbol (RFAF), condemned the racist abuse. In a press release RFAF showed solidarity with the player and his family and apologised in the name of the Andalusian football.
“Those who use football to show hate through racist abuse, xenophobic, homophobic or sexist abuse will be identified and banned from football grounds.” read the press release.
On their website the NGO Asociación Pro Derechos Humanos de Andalucía backed the anti-racism initiative and added “sadly the increase of racism and xenophobia is a reality and has implications in many areas of life, including football.
“According to the Ministry of internal affairs, the number of hate crimes have increased 13% in 2015. In that year, 1324 assaults were reported, most of these were of racist and xenophobic nature or for homophobia, but it is estimated that over 4000 go unreported.”
The country’s player’s association (AFE) have also joined the support. In a video on Twitter AFE president Luis Rubiales said: “It is hard to believe that Etienne has to go through this. We can’t continue being racist, our society needs to change and that needs to happen now.”
Both AFE and RFAF have pledged to participate on the event on Sunday.
— Cádiz C.F. (@Cadiz_CF) November 16, 2016
— AFE (@afefutbol) November 17, 2016
— ApdhaCádiz (@APDHACadiz) November 18, 2016