Brazilian striker Wellington speaks to FIFPro about recent racist abuse from opposition fans.
I am not a monkey!
Wellington, striker with Concordia Chiajna
“I want everybody to know about what happened”, says Wellington Carlos da Silva.
Last Friday, 3rd October, the Brazilian professional footballer was the victim of racist abuse in Romania.
He tells his story to FIFPro.
Wellington Carlos da Silva is a 27-year old striker for Romanian premier league club Concordia Chiajna. Last Friday his team played at home against Rapid Bucuresti. The match ended in a 0-0 draw, yet nonetheless generated a whole lot of media attention.
What happened according to you?
“I was just playing the game, until a group of Rapid fans, maybe 7 or 8 people, started to sing. They yelled wooh wooh wooh. How do you call that?”
“Yes, monkey chants.”
“They did that all the time. The entire match. I went to the referee. I told him, this is not okay. You have to do something, my friend. But the referee only told me, that I should go away and continue playing. I did play on, but the fans kept singing. I again went to the referee, again told him that it was ‘not okay’. Then he gave me a yellow card.”
Wellington received the yellow card in the 59th minute. It did not stop the abuse from the stands.
“The chanting continued until the end of the game, all the time.”
TV footage showed supporters making monkey gestures
Wellington played through it, although it was not easy for him to concentrate on football. “This was the first time that this had happened to me. It was very hard. I wanted to stop playing. But I also said to myself, that I had to fight against this. I tried to be the strongest person.”
“Some players told me to quit the match, but I did not want to leave the pitch. No, I don’t go, I play, I told them. I wanted everybody to know about this.”
After the final whistle, Wellington again tried to talk with the referee.
“I explained that this (behaviour of the fans) was not okay. He told me to go away. If not, he would give me the red card. I then said, ‘Okay give it to me’. But he did not do that.”
Still, Wellington’s misery was not finished. It got even worse.
“When I wanted to leave the pitch, a Rapid fan threw a banana at me. I picked it up and turned to the camera men and showed them the banana. I said this is not good.”
“My wife and son were watching from the stands.”
In front of the camera, Wellington spoke, tears in his eyes:
“Nu sunt o maimuta! I am not a monkey!”
(link video, from 32nd minute: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SZQqTFzMvRc)
Wellington’s incident captured headlines in and outside of Romania.
Days later, some reporters traced the ‘banana thrower’ and arranged a meeting between him and Wellington.
“Yesterday (Wednesday) this man told me that he was sorry, that he did not want to be a racist, that he did not know what it meant, throwing a banana.”
“I told him, that I thought what he did was criminal. I have no problem with you, I said, but you must be punished for this.”
Pictures of the meeting went all over Romania and even across borders (http://www.mediafax.ro/sport/wellington-s-a-impacat-cu-fanul-rapidist-care-a-aruncat-o-coaja-de-banana-spre-el-foto-13371141.
By this, Wellington succeeded as “his” news had spread all over the world. In Romania, players, the footballers association, clubs, the federation; representatives from all stakeholders in the country’s football showed their support for Wellington and emphasised that there is no place for racism in football.
“I received a lot of positive reactions, from other players, but also from the federation and even from other Rapid fans.”
The Romanian players association (AFAN), together with the football federation (FRF) and national television, visited the training ground of the national team in Mogosoaia on Tuesday, to record a video.
Captain Ciprian Marica and Gabriel Torje (both Konyaspor, Turkey), Alexandru Chipciu (Steaua) and Dragos Grigore (Toulouse, France) participated by making statements:
“We are all equal. Victories have no colour. We must fight against racism together. Love football. And, Romania says no to racism!”
The video aired for the first time on Thursday, October 9th.
There were more initiatives, for example the players of Petrolul publishing their own anti-racism video on the club’s website. (link: http://fcpetrolul.ro/petrolul-spune-nu-rasismului-fcp-tv/)
“I have seen the video of the Romanian national team”, says Wellington. “I think it is a very good initiative.”
“I don’t know exactly how to stop racism, that is very difficult. We must join together in this fight against racism. When we do that, then we can show that this behaviour is wrong, that our different colours do not mean that we are different people.”
“I have always said no to racism and I will keep on doing that.”
Show Racism the Red Card applaud the stance taken by Wellington and will continue to work with FIFPro to offer support to players and help inform and instruct all players how to take action when confronted with racist abuse.
*Photo - YouTube