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Moussa Marega Racially Abused During Game – The Buck Stops Here

On Monday, FC Porto registered a 2-1 away win against Vitoria de Guimaraes, seeing them edge to within one point of league leaders Benfica in the Portuguese top flight.

However, the game felt like an afterthought following the horrible events that took place in the 68th minute.

Less than ten minutes prior, Porto striker Moussa Marega put the visitors ahead. By the 68th minute, his joy had been turned into rage as Vitoria fans began to racially abuse him from the sidelines.

The French-born Malian was visibly enraged by the comments made, forcing him to walk off the field, ignoring the pleas from opposition players, his teammates and coaching staff to stay on the field.

The full video can be found below.

Not so long ago, we saw Italian striker Mario Balotelli (whose parents are Ghanaian) racially taunted by Lazio fans. The match on January 5th saw Lazio fined a mere 20,000 euros for the vile attacks.

Only two months prior to that, Balotelli booted the ball at the crowd and subsequently walked off the field after Hellas Verona fans displayed monkey chants in the 54th minute.

In spite of all the good that has been done in recent years to combat racism in our sport, some people don’t seem to fully comprehend just how hurtful their actions and words can be.

Racism, put simply has no place in today’s society. Whether it be on a soccer pitch, in a public place or on social media, all forms of racism should be called out and the individuals responsible should be held accountable.

Thankfully, in the case of the Hellas Verona ‘ultra’ who was at the centre of the attacks behind Balotelli, a significant ban was handed out.

But it is not enough. If you’ve seen the above videos, then you know just how much racist abuse can affect players.

They’ve all worked harder than you could possibly imagine to get to where they are now. They don’t deserve to be condemned simply because they look different than what people view as the norm.

In a world where people are growing to accept everyone for who they are regardless of race, gender, sex or otherwise, those people who are stuck in a different time need to be flushed out.

They need to be taught that it is simply unacceptable to call people out for being different.

When Balotelli was three, he was moved into foster care as his biological parents were too poor to cover his health bills. He was forced to bide his time between his foster parents and his biological ones.

All this happened after he and his family moved from the southernmost point of Italy to about as far north as you can go.

He wasn’t exactly born into a life of riches like some footballers are. He had to work his way from the ground up, fighting for every inch he could possibly get.

He has been able to forge a successful career for himself, winning three Serie A titles and the Champions League with Inter Milan.

He was also directly involved in the famous sequence of play that saw Sergio Aguero score the Premier League-winning goal for Manchester City in the 2011-2012 season.

No football fan alive today will ever forget the famous Martin Tyler call of “Balotelli….. Aguerooooo!” In assisting the Argentine, Balotelli forever wrote his name into footballing folklore.

But the sad fact remains that even in this time, there are those who want to bring him and players like Moussa Marega down to their levels.

Many fans are motivated to do this by jealousy. They look at these successful black players as they sit in the stands, envious of the money they make as professional players. The lives they live off the field. Their ability on the field.

It makes them sick that it’s not them in that position. Frankly, it makes everyone sick when these people decide to take out their anger and frustration on players who are undeserving of such attention.

What these people need to be taught is this.

If you were in their feet, as some have wished they would be, how would you like it if someone you’d never met or seen before began calling you names and making obscene gestures towards you for no other reason than you being different to them?

What if a random Twitter account began racially abusing you behind the safety of their computer screen?

It wouldn’t be a fun feeling and to wish that kind of treatment on players isn’t just reprehensible. It’s downright unfair.

Something else that needs to be taught to some is to let people make their feeling known. This particularly pertains to some of the teammates of Balotelli and Marega who insisted for them to not leave the field.

In the heat of the moment, it’s understandable to want your teammate to stay on the field as you try to win the game. But the fact of the matter is that they are protesting.

Them walking off the field is their way of saying that they won’t stand for racism. From this point onwards, players should try to understand what it is their teammate is fighting for.

In that moment, they need support. Join in the protest, don’t let the fans get what they want. Whatever needs to be done in that situation to show the racists what they’re doing isn’t right, do it.

These guys are your teammates after all. You’re supposed to have their back, no matter what.

By simply explaining this to players across the globe, helping them to understand that it is not right, things will take a turn for the better.

Because that’s what players such as Moussa Marega and Mario Balotelli are doing. Fighting against what’s wrong and fighting for what’s right and what is needed.

 

Caelum Ferrarese is a Senior journalist with Soccerscene. He reports widely on micro policy within Australasia and industry disruptions at grassroots level.

Sky Sports extends rights to NIFL

The Northern Ireland Football League has announced that Sky Sports will be the exclusive broadcaster of Football in the region once again.

The Northern Ireland Football League has announced that Sky Sports will once again be the exclusive broadcaster of top-flight football in the region for the next three years.

The Irish League has had a long-lasting partnership with Sky over the years and the agreement will see the relationship in place until the end of the 2024/25 season.

The new agreement will see four Danske Bank Premiership fixtures and the BetMcLean League Cup final broadcast live across the UK & Ireland each season.

Northern Ireland Football Chief Executive, Gerard Lawlor:

“We sincerely thank Sky Sports for their continued backing of our game and we look forward to showcasing some of the best NI Football League matches together over the next three seasons,” he said.

“To continue to have the invaluable support of such a high-profile broadcaster shows how far our league has progressed in recent years as we bring our game to an increasing audience of loyal fans.

“The NI Football League brand is continuing to grow outside of the confines of Northern Ireland, and through Sky Sports, many football fans are now becoming more familiar with the rich history of our clubs and as well as some of the household names that have played in the Irish League.”

Sky Sports Director of Football, Gary Hughes:

“As a long-term partner to the Northern Ireland Football League, we’re delighted to extend Sky Sports’ support of the league and ensure that its entertaining action continues to be available to our customers,” he said.

“Sky Sports customers will be able to enjoy the Northern Ireland Football league alongside our ever-expanding football offering in the UK & Ireland which includes over 500 live games in 2022, from the Premier League, EFL, Scottish Premiership and FA Women’s Super League as well as international action in the form of World Cup Qualifiers, and this month’s Africa Cup of Nations – placing Sky Sports as the home of live football.”

Valencia CF presents revised stadium upgrade plans

Valencia CF President Anil Murthy has stated the club will not deliver a “low-cost stadium” after holding talks with Mayor Joan Ribó over reviving the long-running Nuevo Mestella project.

Valencia CF President Anil Murthy has stated the club will not deliver a “low-cost stadium” after holding talks with Mayor Joan Ribó over reviving the long-running Nuevo Mestella project.

Valencia’s stadium, the Nuevo Mestalla, was originally under construction in 2009. However, over the last 12 years, due to financial issues and negotiation breakdowns, construction has never been completed and the situation has become known as one of the world’s most notorious stadium projects.

Murthy presented revised plans to a Council delegation led by Ribó, with the club seeking to recommence work on the stadium in order to ensure it retains the advantages granted to it under an ATE construction license given in 2012.

The plans presented to the council include a stadium capacity between 43,000 to 46,000, expandable to 60,000. The stadium would have a second ring dedicated almost exclusively to leisure and restaurant offerings, while the roof will be fitted with solar panels in an effort to drive sustainability.

Valencia Mayor, Joan Ribo:

“Initially it is proposed for a capacity comparable to that which the (Mestalla) stadium currently has (48,500), but expandable to 62,000 spectators. But I think this is not the fundamental element,” he said.

“The fundamental element is the novelty of this second ring that has seemed to me to be a remarkable element that is not in many football stadia. They propose a roof that is made of photovoltaic panels, which is an example at that level that I want to value.

“They have assured us that they have guarantees with the bank where they have the debt, which is now Caixabank.

“They have presented us with a calendar where in June 2022 the works of the sports centre would begin, in October 2022 the start of the works of the stadium and in August 2024 the inauguration of the new Mestalla. The calendar seems realistic and possible, but if it is not met, they will listen to us.”

In December, Valencia revealed plans to use funds from LaLiga’s strategic venture, with global investment fund CVC Capital Partners to help finance the construction of its new stadium. Valencia is reportedly set to receive approximately $189 million AUD from LaLiga as part of the LaLiga Impulso venture. $125 million of which is set to head to the stadium project.

Valencia CF President, Anil Murthy:

“The meeting has been very positive. After the two meetings with the Generalitat, today we have taken an important step by formally presenting the project we have to the important institution, which is the City Council,” he said.

“We have agreed on recommencing work as soon as possible, after presenting the project to the Generalitat and the City Council.

“Nobody talks about a low-cost stadium. It’s going to be a stadium that’s going to give a lot of people a lot of hope and it’s going to mean a lot of investment in the city. It’s going to be something different and something attractive.”

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