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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.

Player sentiment up, average age down: PFA releases annual report

Sentiment is well and truly up for A-League players, according to the annual Professional Footballers Australia (PFA) report.

This time last year, only 33% of A-League players felt confident about the direction of their football careers.

According to the PFA’s latest annual report, that number is now 56%.

Of the A-League’s 312 players, 200 responded to the 2020/21 A-League survey, capturing 70% of the current cohort, with the results proving that even despite the ongoing turbulence and uncertainty of COVID-19, the majority of players feel much more confident about their futures within the game.

The report highlights that Australian players actively want to remain in the A-League, as opposed to seeking opportunities overseas.

The key numbers that demonstrate this include:

  • 55% of players said they would like to stay playing in the A-League next season, up from 45% last year.
  • 56% of players are confident about the direction of their football careers, compared to 33% in 2019/20.
  • Only 4% of players would move to an overseas league even if it was for similar money and/or playing standard.
  • Only 16% of players who would prefer to move to an overseas league would only do so if the money and standards were better.

Other highlights of the report include that the average A-League player is getting younger.

Over the last 14 years, the average age of the A-League player has consistently trended upwards.

In 2020/21, however, this changed and the average age trended downwards, dropping from 27.6 to 25.1.

The number of players utilised in the A-League who were aged 21 and under came in at 107, representing 35% of the 300 players who received A-League minutes during the 2020/21 season.

The youngest squads on average belonged to Central Coast Mariners and Adelaide United, with average ages of 23.6 and 23.9 years respectively.

Another highlight was the fact that of the league’s 312 contracted players, 300 received A-League minutes.

“These reports have been immensely valuable, helping the PFA and the players better understand the industry in which they are employed, monitor the application of high-performance standards, assess technical progress and survey the players’ experience,” PFA Co-Chief Executive Beau Busch said of the report.

“For the last five years, we have been able to utilise these reports to formulate evidence-based positions to improve the environments in which our members work through collective bargaining.

“Promisingly, after a period of significant uncertainty, the players have indicated that they are more confident in the direction of their careers and the future of the competition than this time last year, signifying a positive shift in the perception of the A-League.”

The report also highlights the fact that A-League attendances were the lowest ever in the competition, thanks in large part to COVID-19, with an average attendance of 5,660.

Foreign players in the league reduced by 12 to a total of 51, whilst the average salary in the A-League is $136,791.

Access the full report HERE.

DFL and AWS introduce two new Match Facts to Bundesliga coverage

Bundesliga analysis

The Deutsche Fußball Liga (DFL) and Amazon Web Services (AWS) have announced the addition of two new Bundesliga Match Facts powered by AWS that will premiere as graphics during broadcasts and in the official Bundesliga app during the 2021-2022 season.

The two new Match Facts – Shot Efficiency and Passing Profile – will bring the total number of advanced statistics to eight, with each of them aiming to give fans deeper insights into the action on the pitch.

The first of the new advanced stats – Shot Efficiency – compares the number of goals that a player or team has scored with how many goals the player or team should have scored based on the quality of their chances.

The second – Passing Profile – provides deeper insights into the pass quality of a player or an entire team. Both of the stats are generated by gathering and analysing the match feeds from live games in real time as they are streamed into AWS.

Both new stats made their debut during Matchday 4 on the clash between German Champion FC Bayern München and the second-placed team of the previous season RB Leipzig.

The two new Match Facts will better showcase the action on the field – giving fans, coaches, players, and commentators visual support for analysing the decision-making of players and teams.

Andreas Heyden, Executive Vice President of Digital Innovations for DFL Group, was excited to further innovate the matchday experience for viewers based both domestically and internationally.

“Bundesliga Match Facts powered by AWS allows us to give fans more insight into the game of football, broadcasters more interesting stories to tell and coaches and teams, more data to excel at their game,” he said.

“Last year, the reception for Bundesliga Match Facts around the world was very positive, and we expect through ML and AI to continue to innovate on these analytics to make them even better.

“These two new stats give fans a view into player efficiency that hasn’t been achieved before, and we are just at the beginning of our relationship with AWS. I’m excited to see how technology will continue to evolve the fan experience and the game.”

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