Global excitement over this year’s World Cup has not overshadowed stories of racism targeting Black players. Alan Sugar, a British media personality and politician, sparked outrage after he posted a racist tweet about Senegal’s team on Wednesday (June 20).
Sugar compared the Senegalese players—whom had just won a match against Poland—to people selling beach bags and sunglasses, The Guardian reported. He posted a photoshopped picture of the team with fake bags and shades, sending the message that they were criminals selling counterfeit goods. “I recogni[z]e some of these guys from the beach in Marbella. Multitasking, resourceful chaps,” Sugar wrote.
When Twitter users pointed out that the comment was racist, Sugar showed no real remorse. “Why not it is meant to be funny … for god sake,“ he wrote. “I cant see what I have to apologi[z]e for … you are OTT … its a bloody joke.”
Though the tweet had been taken down, the damage was still done.
The Senegal players are not the only ones who have come under the fire of racism. England national team player Raheem Sterling was heavily criticized for his tattoo of a gun — a piece that honors his father who was killed because of gun violence. UK newspaper The Sun described the tattoo as “sick” and linked it to gun crime. After the racist description from The Sun and public scrutiny, Sterling was forced to explain the tattoo’s significance, though other players pointed out he shouldn’t have had to do that, UK’s Independent reported.
“Should he have had to come out and explain himself? I don’t believe so,” Kyle Walker, Sterling’s teammate, said recently. “It’s his body, it’s up to him what he does with his body…I feel it’s a bit sad that he had to come and tell people that his dad died from a gun. It’s personal to him.”
Rhian Brewster, a soccer player with England’s U-17 national team and the Premier Club League Liverpool, has also spoken out against the racism that he and other players have faced. Brewster’s teammate Morgan Gibbs-White was called a “monkey” during the FIFA U-17 World Cup India 2017 last October, the Liverpool player told The Guardian. FIFA (the Fédération Internationale de Football Association), launched an investigation into the incident in January, but later concluded there was no evidence to punish the unidentified player responsible for the racist comment. The decision drew major criticism, SkySports reported.