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Football racism: incidents at separate Spanish matches in same day

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AFP/The Local - [email protected]
Football racism: incidents at separate Spanish matches in same day
A corner flag reads "VS Racism" in reference to the anti-racism initiative #1voiceVSRACISM ahead of the Spanish league football match between Getafe CF and Girona FC. Photo: Thomas COEX/AFP.

Spain's football racism problem was laid bare on Saturday with two alleged incidents of racism on the same day at separate matches, including a third-tier side that refused to finish a match after their goalkeeper faced off with fans who were allegedly racially abusing him.

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The incidents came a few days after Spain faced Brazil in a friendly match arranged to combat racism, following numerous instances of abuse aimed at Real Madrid forward Vinicius Junior over recent seasons.

Rayo Majadahonda goalkeeper Cheikh Kane Sarr was sent off in the 84th minute of his team's match at Sestao River, near Bilbao, after remonstrating with one supporter behind his goal.

His team decided not to keep playing after the Senegalese goalkeeper, 23, was dismissed and eventually walked off, with the game then suspended.

Earlier La Liga side Sevilla condemned "racist and xenophobic abuse" aimed at coach Quique Sanchez Flores and defender Marcos Acuna during a game at Getafe.

"We had three despicable cases of racism in Spain this Saturday alone," wrote Vinicius on social media platform X, offering his support to Acuna and Sanchez Flores.

READ ALSO: Racism in Spain reducing my desire to play football: Brazil's Vinicius

"To Sarr and Rayo Majadahonda, may your bravery inspire others, racists must be exposed and the games cannot continue with them in the stands," added the Madrid forward.

"We will only have victory when the racists leave the stadiums and go straight to jail, a place they deserve."

Vinicius notably suffered racial abuse away at Valencia in May last season and received worldwide support after squaring off with a supporter in the stands, as Sarr did at Sestao.

"Our team will not come out to restart the game after our player received unacceptable racist insults," wrote Sarr's team Rayo Majadahonda on X.

"It's an absolute disgrace what happened today... a section of the stadium spitting out racist insults at our team-mate Cheikh Sarr, for the colour of his skin," said their captain Jorge Casado on Instagram.

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"In addition, the RFEF (Spanish football federation) trying to oblige us to go out and finish the game.

"How shameful, it seems crazy that it's the year 2024 and we have brainless people in the stadiums running amok -- we are all Cheikh, no to racism."

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'Abhorrent'

The Spanish federation said their competition committee would decide on issues arising from the incident.

"The match was suspended after an incident between fans... and Cheikh Sarr... who reported having received racist insults without any member of the referee team, given their position on the field, being able to hear them," said the Spanish federation in a statement.

"Francisco Garcia Riesgo, the referee, suspended the match when the visiting team's players decided to leave the field of play due to the aforementioned events, without the referee being able to put the anti-racism protocol into practise since the Madrid team refused to continue playing."

Rayo Majadahonda, losing 2-1 at the time, had already been reduced to 10 men earlier in the second half before Sarr was then dismissed.

It was the second match tainted by alleged racism of the day in Spain, following two incidents in Sevilla's 1-0 win at Getafe.

Referee Javier Iglesias Villanueva wrote in his report home fans yelled "Acuna monkey" and "Acuna, you come from monkeys" at the Argentina international, leading the official to briefly pause the match.

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Sevilla coach Quique Sanchez Flores said he was called a "gypsy" by some home fans, and that he was proud of his background but opposed it being used as abuse.

"I am proud of every pore in my veins that can breathe 'gypsy'," said the coach.

"It is one thing to be a gypsy or partly, and another to use it as a racist insult -- I find it abhorrent."

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