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Unsung Hero of the Week: Marcelo

Despite the efforts of FIFA and all of soccer’s governing bodies, racism is still quite apparent in the world of football. Real Madrid left-back, Marcelo, was again the victim of racist chants this week after a derby win over Athletico Madrid. Despite being consistently at the wrong end of this disgusting aspect of football, Marcelo’s reaction to the trouble gives him the title of this week’s Unsung Hero of the Week, writes Eoin Lyons.

As mentioned, Marcelo is unfortunately not a new victim of racial abuse within the footballing world. It is almost three years ago now, since the high profile saga between Marcelo and Sergio Busquets, who was alleged to have directed racial abuse toward the Real Madrid left-back in a very intense and controversial El Classico clash. Even though this incident was heavily criticized and slammed by both fans and media alike, the problem still persists.

On Wednesday the 5th of this month, Real Madrid took on their city rivals Athletico Madrid in a Copa del Rey semi-final first leg tie. Although Marcelo was an unused substitute in the 3 – 0 win for Real Madrid, it was reported that in the post-match ‘warm down,’ the lingering Athletico fans subjected the Brazilian to a tirade of racial slurs. As is commonplace in Spain and England, many fans do linger in the stadium after a game. However, the behaviour of these 600 or so Athletico fans was inexcusable. As Marcelo jogged around the pitch with his teammates, the away fans chanted the likes of ‘Marcelo is a monkey,’ at the Brazilian in the most disgusting and vile manner. At one stage during the warm down, Marcelo looked up at the thugs with a look of bewilderment but, in admirable fashion, did not react.

While this may be the culture of a heated derby such as the Madrid clash, it certainly does not warrant justification in the modern game. This case of abuse was even more disgusting when Marcelo was joined on the pitch by his son, who ran in to his arms as the training wound down. In a shocking turn of events, it was reported that the roughly 600 strong crowd chanted ‘Marcelo is not your father,’ and ‘May your Daddy die.’ Comments like this are not acceptable in any facet of society, and are utterly inexcusable in any circumstances. Unfortunately though, racism remains strong in the Spanish game as Mario Balotelli, Daniel Alves, and Samuel Eto’o have all commented on in recent years.

Rising above the virtually unfixable situation though, Marcelo remained immune to the abuse, stating that ‘even though this is not the first time it happens I can promise you that we are stronger than any kind of racism. This will never affect me or my family.’ He took to Twitter in the aftermath of the events with this reaction, and also thanked his fans and friends for the support he had been given through every event in the same vein as this one.

While this of course, is not a criticism of Spanish football entirely, it is certainly visible that the racist minority remain as vocally strong as ever before. While Marcelo’s reaction to the abuse is admirable, and does not give attention to the thugs who would take it as fuel for their twisted fire, the challenge does remain for the football policy makers to stamp out a continuing blemish in an otherwise excellent sport. Hopefully, the reaction of Marcelo will become commonplace if racism does continue, rising above the situation. Yet it is certainly not a problem anyone would like to see persist.

Pundit Arena, Eoin Lyons.

Featured Image By Alejandro Ramos (originally posted to Flickr as Mia!!!!) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons.

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Author: The PA Team

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