Racism has a way of working its way into every aspect of life as we know it. A prime example of this happened at a soccer game in Serbia this past weekend when a Brazilian-born player was taunted to tears by fans.
Everton Luiz, player for Serbia’s SuperLiga Partizan team, was the target of monkey chants and racist signs for the entirety of a game against the rival Rad Beograd. After all of the taunting, Luiz ran up to a group of opposing fans and raised his middle finger to them, sparking what could’ve turned into a brawl between both clubs.
“I took 90 minutes of racist abuse and other insults from the terraces,” Luiz said in a statement after the game. “Thereafter I found myself in a cauldron of emotionless individuals who charged at me when they should have protected me. I want to forget this, refocus on football and urge everyone to say ‘No’ to racism.”
After the teams were separated, Luiz stood in front of a group of Partizan fans and started to cry. This image is what many who heard of the ugly moment would remember most.
“I want to forget this as soon as possible. I love Serbia and the people here, that is why I cried,” he later explained.
For now, Luiz is going to put his best foot forward and continue playing in Serbia to be a good role model for his children.
“I want my children to grow up strong and knowing that, yes, these things can happen,” he said, according to The Mirror. “Unfortunately it’s not just here that there are people with these kinds of attitudes. But I also don’t want them to suffer. If it hurts me this much, I can’t imagine them hurting too.”
The Mirror reports that Serbia is no stanger when it comes to racism displayed during football games and many fans have even earned a reputation for this kind of behavior. Unfortunately, Luiz is far from the first player of color to be taunted from the stands because of his race. Given the distasteful response of the VP of Rad Beograd, it doesn’t appear that he’ll be the last.