Neymar was subjected to racism, says team mate Andres Iniesta
Barcelona teammate Andres Iniesta has confirmed that racist chants were hurled at Neymar on Saturday during their derby match against local rivals Espanyol. However, the club head coach, Luis Enrique was silent about the allegations.
Iniesta had apparently heard racist chanting from a supporter in a corner during the first half of the game. He told reporters. To quote him," in one corner, in the first half, from one supporter."
Barcelona defender Gerard Pique did not hear the chants himself but believes that something akin to it did take place and was of the opinion that the perpetrators, if they can be identified, should be exposed and punished.
"If that happened, obviously they should be charged and the correct measures taken. Those who did it are responsible, not the Espanyol fans [in general]. They should be identified and singled out one by one," he said.
It was a rather squawky atmosphere that greeted the two local Catalan clubs at the RCDE stadium on Saturday during the Derbi Barceloni. Some of the home fans also apparently abused Luis Enrique and Lionel Messi.
Luis Enrique was questioned about the allegations in the post-match press conference but he choose not to be too vocal about them. After a short pause, the Barcelona boss said he was unwilling to share his comments. This is what he told the press,
"I am only interested in the game of football. If I talk about something, I get criticised. If not, I get criticised too." That was indeed an answer with the ring of diplomacy.
Former Barcelona vice-president Toni Friexa posted on twitter about the incident saying that he hopes required action will be taken against the racists and that the referee of the match Jose Luis Gonzalez will add it to the match report. His tweet said, "I hope that the racist chants at Neymar are included in the referee's report.”
Espero que els crits racistes a Neymar es reflecteixin a l'acta arbitral— Toni Freixa (@tonifreixa) January 2, 2016
But there was nothing included in the official report of the match by the referee.
Racist chants abusing players is nothing new in the La Liga. It is a recent nuisance that has raised its ugly head not only in the Spanish league but also in Leagues around the world. The Italian striker Mario Balotelli has been subject to it.
A banana was thrown at Barca’s right-back Dani Alves during a game at Villareal in May 2014. Alves had taken the banana and eaten it before publicly protesting his humiliation. His protestations culminated in a €12,000 fine for Villareal and the individual responsible was banned from all sporting events for two years.
It is of some interest that in most of these cases punishments have been handed out to individuals while groups that indulge in racist chants have been ignored by the officials.
Here’s what Gerard Pique had to say after the match: