Former France footballer says players must speak out on racist abuse


Former France international Lilian Thuram, winner of the 1995 World Cup, has called on other players to speak out against racism, saying that the recent incidents that led to accusations of discrimination from both the International Olympic Committee and the Football Association England came “out of the blue.”

Thuram, who played with English Premier League sides Newcastle and Barcelona, was involved in a very public row with fans during a game against Marseille in 2006, but remained clear that no player should accept any racist abuse: “Why are we just learning this? You have to find out. We have to find out when we get to the top. You are ashamed of your side. We have to stop this thing.”

Le Journal de Dimanche also spoke to Thierry Henry, Henry’s former France teammate, who urged more black players to join international football after Thierry Henry, now with the New York Red Bulls, publicly condemned the abuse he experienced in 2006. Henry told Le Journal de Dimanche: “I’m very unhappy with what happened in Marseille and I am astonished that none of the black players took a stand, unlike people like Lilian Thuram who understood how it feels.”

The two incidents led FIFA to approve guidelines for reporting racist abuse, a move Thuram supported. He told Le Journal de Dimanche: “It’s important that everyone who encounters such racism, not just those who are white or have European heritage, reports it. What happened during the Olympics was out of the blue.”

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