KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTS: The Marega case took a new turn when FIFPRO, the international footballers’ association, promised to stand up for players or teams who walk off the pitch because of racist behaviour.

This followed an incident in Portugal on Sunday when Porto’s Mali forward Moussa Marega stormed off the pitch during a 2-1 league win away to his old club Vitoria Guimaraes.

Marega had scored the decisive on goal on the hour and pointed to his skin, earning him a yellow card.

Subsequently FIFPRO extended its previous policyt of supporting players in individual cases.

A statement said:

The racist abuse towards FC Porto player Moussa Marega highlights once again the failure to protect professional footballers from discrimination and racial vilification.

Football competition organisers, employers and governments have a duty of care towards players exposed to discrimination on the field of play, their workplace. The large number of recent cases of discrimination show that football’s general anti-racism protocol is insufficiently applied and does not achieve its objectives.

Sanctions passed by sporting organisations have had no significant effect and law enforcement in many countries has failed to provide appropriate responses to prosecute the perpetrators of these crimes – whether in stadia or online. 

Because the application of measures to protect professional footballers is failing, FIFPRO fully supports players and teams who decide to walk off the pitch and will provide assistance to those players in any way necessary.

We are deeply concerned for the well-being of the players who are subjected to this type of hurtful discrimination. We as players must play our part in supporting our colleagues, act in solidarity with them and support their choice of action in light of the abuse targeted at them.

The protection of players requires leadership from all organisations in and around football. Our game needs a progressive and united approach. This includes not only more effective measures but deeper considerations such as diverse representation in decision-making bodies.