La Liga is losing its battle against racism. This fact is made shockingly clear when we review the news that Neymar – the unfortunate recipient of abuse last April – has once again become the victim of racist chants.
The incident took place during Barcelona’s 0-0 derby draw vs. Espanyol at the Estadi Cornellà-El Prat on Saturday, when monkey chants were directed towards the Brazilian Ballon d’Or nominee. Club captain Andrés Iniesta was quick to speak out and legitimize the nasty abuse, stating that it originated “in one corner, in the first half, from one supporter.” Gerard Piqué followed suit, declaring that if the alleged chants happened, those responsible “should be charged and the correct measures taken. Those who did it are responsible, not the Espanyol fans [more generally]. They should be identified and singled out one by one,” he said.
Former Barça board member Toni Freixa claimed to have heard the chants, and tweeted his trust in league officials to make it known and deal with it appropriately: “I trust that the racist chants that Neymar was subjected to have been carefully noted in the referee’s report.”
The disconcerting and downright disturbing part of this all? There is not a single mention of this misconduct in the referee’s official report. Don’t believe me? Take a look for yourselves.
This striking negligence accompanies the implicit tolerance and even acceptance put on display by Neymar’s manager, Luis Enrique, who, after a brief pause, declined to comment during his post-match presser. Despite undoubtedly being well aware of the power in his words, Lucho failed to use his position at the helm of the best club in the world as it stands to highlight the issue. It’s beyond disappointing.
La Liga and racism have gone hand in hand for as long as we can remember. Most notably, Dani Alves – Neymar’s teammate for club and country – drew attention to the issue when he picked up and ate the banana that had been thrown onto the pitch during a game at Villarreal in May 2014. It’s 2016, almost two whole years later, and very little has changed.
This most recent incident will be investigated by La Liga chiefs, but it’s safe to say that in light of the league’s past mishandlings, our hopes are not high. In fact, they’re dwindling. Do better, Liga BBVA.