Discussing Manchester City’s Yaya Toure and his response to the racist chanting in Russia 0

Yaya Toure

I’m a neither someone who has played professional football, nor who has been subject to discrimination predicated on the colour of my skin, so with that in mind I really have no idea as to what it’s like to hear a football crowd chant racist abuse in my direction.

Even so, I found Yaya Toure’s response to the sadly-not-shocking chanting in Khimki last night hugely impressive. The Manchester City midfielder was clearly aware of the abuse during the game - as he alerted the referee to the issue - but he showed admirable emotional control in the face of a situation in which he could have been excused a more volatile reaction.

From a player’s perspective, I don’t know the best way to fight racism, and I would never judge anybody who just left the pitch or responded more aggressively to it - of course not - but Toure was actually a credit to his profession last night. His performance didn’t suffer, he was hugely influential in the game before, after and during the chanting, and he spoke eloquently about the matter post-game and later on Twitter.

On the one hand, Toure deserves our applause for a level of maturity that he didn’t owe anybody, but on the other maybe it’s a sad indictment of how frequently black players encounter this kind of behaviour and how little shock value it now has. That’s terrible.

I’d say this to UEFA and FIFA: stop initiating gimicky responses to racism, forget the pennants and the ineffective advertising, and actually start getting heavy-handed and issuing punishments which carry a real deterrent.

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