Last night’s UEFA Champions League match between Paris Saint-Germain FC and Istanbul Basaksehir FK, ended in a bit of a drama, as the old age issue of racism bore its ugly head yet again.
For powerful and influential platforms like sports and media, blatant social injustice is something that cannot be tolerated let alone condoned, and it was admirable to see French soccer giants PSG take a stand bigotry alongside their Turkish opponents Basaksehir FK, proving that soccer is much more than a game.
Racism, no doubt, has been prevalent in sports, particularly soccer that is vastly globalised, and the battle to eliminate bigotry has been a long and hard-fought one. So, one would think, or at least like to think that racism, especially if you consider how integrated soccer is, should be largely extinct by now, but that is not the case.
Racist incidents in soccer, shameful as they are, are no rare occurrences. Majority of the racism experienced in soccer are usually perpetuated by fans, with acts as shameful as throwing banana peels onto the football pitch, and chanting monkey to a black player.
But the idea of racism coming from an official is quite unprecedented in this age. Especially considering that these officials are representative of the FIFA governing body.
In last night’s PSG/Basaksehir FK bout, it was reported that one of the referees used a racist slur against the assistant coach of Basaksehir FK; Pierre Webo while expelling him from the bench.
The assistant coach who happens to be an ex-Cameroonian player got into a heated exchange with the referee official in question, where the referee then blurted a racist comment as he was trying to eject the coach.
Basaksehir’s players immediately refused to continue with the match following the ugly incident, as they stormed off the field 23 minutes into the game. PSG also walked off the pitch in solidarity. UEFA initially opted to resume the match with a different fourth official, but Basaksehir refused, as they brought the match to an end.
Following their protest, UEFA decided to resume the match on Wednesday, from the 14th minute. They also noted that they will look into the issue.
“A thorough investigation on the incident that took place will be opened immediately.”
For Chinedu Okafor, its all about making an impact with words, creating a profound impression on the audience with the intended narrative.