Thursday, June 4, 2009
Onyewu wants ‘public excuses’ from Van Damme for racist insults
Oguchi Onyewu is an American soccerplayer who plays for the Belgian prime league club Standard Liège. Jelle Van Damme is a Belgian player who plays for the other big Belgian club, RSC Anderlecht. Oguchi Onyewu lodged a complaint against Jelle Van Damme for racial insults on the soccer field. This a sad first one for Belgium. On the 21sty of May during a match between RSC Anderlecht and Standard Liège Jelle Van damme called Onyewu ‘dirty monkey’ a first time, ‘monkey’ a second time and ‘keep crying monkey’ a third time during the competition.
Although Onyewu brought it to the attention of the referee, the referee decided not to react and asked Onyewu to keep on playing. After the match Onyewu said that since he has been playing in Belgiulm it was the first time he was confronted with such blatant racism. He told journalists he wouldn’t let it happen again. Eventually Oguchi Onyewu lodged a complaint against Jelle Van Damme.
According to Jelle Van Damme Onyewu also insulted him by several times repeating ‘sale Flamand’ (this means literally ‘dirty Fleming’ , hence has an insulting connotation in Belgian French). However, Jelle Van Damme didn’t want to confirm what he said on the soccer field and commented that it didn’t matter. According to Van damme during a match worse things may be said as emotions run high, players should be able to handle this things and put them behind them once the game is over.
Onyewu is going further anyway. According to Belgian law racist insults are illegal and therefore a penal offence. Onyewu says he is not lodging a complaint for himself alone but for all black players who may be confronted with racism on the soccer field. He wants to show a strong signal against the banality of racism in soccer competitions.
Van Damme risks a fine of maximum 2500 euros and even an effective imprisonment from 8 days to 2 months. For Onyewu public excuses are good enough. If Jelle Van Damme publicly apologizes for his racist comments Onyewu says not to go further with a trial.
In France, recently a soccer player from an amateur team in Northern France has been convicted for racism. This was a first time in France. On the 23rd of February 23 year old Maxence Cavalcante made racist comments against Senegalese player Makam Traoré. The judge convicted him to 100 hours of forced labour, a fine of 1500 euros to pay to the victim and 200 euros to pay to the League against Racism.