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2022 World Cup marred by racist comments, hate speech

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DOHA, QATAR: Neymar of Brazil celebrates at the end of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 Round of 16 match between Brazil and South Korea at Stadium 974 on December 05, 2022 in Doha, Qatar. (Erçin Ertürk - Anadolu Agency)
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Dec 23, 2022 - 07:02 AM

ISTANBUL (AA) – Despite the zero-tolerance principle against all forms of discrimination at the 2022 FIFA World Cup held in Qatar, a lot of hate speech was used both on and off the field and on social media.

According to a report by the US-based Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH) published on Nov. 21, posts began appearing on social media targeting Black players before the 2022 World Cup started, and social media platforms did nothing to curtail or prevent the abuse.

The report said that no action was taken over 99 of the 100 racist tweets targeting 43 football players including Raheem Sterling and Bukayo Saka of the England national football team. Only one post was deleted because it was repeated 16 times.

The expression “Negro” (Black) was used to describe the football players in 11 of the posts and a monkey or banana emoji was used for the players in 25 of them, the report said, while 13 of the players were asked to be deported, 25 of them were told to “go to other countries” and in 13 tweets the players were targeted based on their language skills.

Imran Ahmed, the founder and CEO of CCDH, said in a statement on Dec. 11 that Black players participating in the organization were also targeted by racist abuse on Instagram and that these posts were not deleted by the platform.

French players of African descent exposed to racist comments on social media

Players for France’s national team, which finished as runners-up in the tournament after losing to Argentina on penalties in the final, were also the target of racist comments.

In addition to Kylian Mbappe, who was named the top scorer of the tournament, expressions containing hate speech were used against African-born French players such as Kingsley Coman, Aurelien Tchouameni and Randal Kolo Muani.

In a statement, French Sports Minister Amelie Oudea-Castera expressed her “total support” for Kingsley Coman and all players who are victims of racist comments on social media, which have no place in football or anywhere else.

Minister for Gender Equality, Diversity and Equal Opportunities Isabelle Rome said the racism that national football players are exposed to is “unacceptable.”

Racist comments made over Qatari emir’s dressing Messi in traditional garment

Racist expressions were used on social media after Qatari Emir Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani dressed Lionel Messi in the traditional “bisht” used by men in Gulf countries on special occasions at Argentina’s trophy ceremony. Arab social media users pointed out that Sheikh Tamim gave the gift to honor and show respect to the athlete.

Darren Watkins, a popular American YouTuber, streamer and Internet personality better known by his online alias “iShowSpeed,” asked “Why are you wearing the Argentina jersey?” to an Asian fan who passed by. After that, he shouted “Konnichiwa!” which means “Hello” in Japanese, to the fan, who said he was not Japanese but Chinese, sparking controversy on social media.

The criticisms included “Stop spewing macro nationalism and racism against Asians and use the platform for positive things” and “You let Asians down. Everyone makes mistakes. Now grow up and do better things.”

Watkins removed the video from his account and released an apology.

Racist group targets Moroccan football fans

Moroccan fans faced verbal and physical attacks from some far-right groups in the French city of Montpellier after Morocco’s World Cup results.

A 14-year-old Moroccan teenager was killed after the driver of a car ran over him.

According to eyewitnesses, there were two people in the vehicle, and the perpetrators made fun of Moroccan fans and toured Barcelona Street many times.

In Italy, a group of people dressed in black and wearing masks attacked fans who were celebrating in the city of Verona with sticks and chains after a Morocco match on Dec. 6.

A total of 13 people who were members of far-right groups were detained.

Italy’s far-right Minister of Transport Matteo Salvini criticized Moroccan fans celebrating their national team’s penalty shootout victory over Spain.

“Morocco eliminates Spain, so they ‘celebrate’ in Milan…I hope that those responsible are identified and pay all damages,” Salvini tweeted.

Racist propaganda in Croatia’s locker room

The Croatian national team sang songs of the Thompson band, who are known for their neo-Nazi sympathies, in the dressing room before their match against Argentina on Dec. 13.

FIFA also fined the Croatian Football Federation $53,000 in connection with the behavior of Croatian fans. Serbian-born Canadian goalie Milan Borjan faced racist taunts during a match against Croatia on Nov. 27.

Iran national team manager Carlos Queiroz dodged a question from a reporter about ongoing protests in the country, saying he only wanted to talk about the game.

At a press conference Thursday ahead of Iran’s game against Wales, Queiroz told a BBC reporter: “Why don’t you ask such questions to (England coach Gareth) Southgate?”

“That is the only question I make. Why don’t you ask the other coaches? Why don’t you ask Southgate ‘What do you think about England and the United States that left Afghanistan and all the women alone’?” he added.

FIFA fined the Serbian Football Federation $21,300 after a flag that showed Kosovo as part of their country was hung in the dressing room.

Qatar also faced racist abuse after it won the right to host the FIFA World Cup.

Western media, which said that Qatar should not host the World Cup due to alleged human rights violations, targeted the country with hate language.

*Writing by Selcuk Bugra Gokalp and Emre Asikci

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