Wednesday 13 December 2017

Rugby and GAA stars get together to kick racism off the pitch

Ralph Riegel

Ralph Riegel

THREE sports stars have urged fans and players alike to give racism the boot.

Rugby winger Simon Zebo, All-Ireland hurler Sean Og O hAilpin, and All-Ireland ladies footballer Nollaig Cleary endorsed the Irish Immigrant Support Centre's (NASC) campaign to drive racism out of both Irish sport and society.

O hAilpin, who won three All-Ireland medals with Cork, said a lot of racist abuse was historically not reported in Ireland because victims were either concerned about attracting further barbs or that little or nothing would eventually happen over their complaint.

"Thanks be to God, it is something that is now being taken seriously because, up until now, I don't think it was something that was taken too seriously.

"For me, for a fellow who is half-Irish and half-Fijian, it is satisfying that... it (anti-racism regulations) will be passed because it is a human rights issue.

"If a fellow goes on to the pitch, regardless of where they are from, they are entitled to play the game without being subjected to that kind of abuse," he added.

Zebo, whose father is from Martinique in the West Indies, said there could be no place in Irish or international sport for such abuse.

The NASC campaign was launched to mark the UN's International Day for the Elimination of Racism today. NASC official Jennifer DeWan told the Irish Independent that the decision to involve Irish sports stars in the campaign followed the high-profile targeting of AC Milan star Kevin Prince Boateng for racial abuse during an Italian league match earlier this year.

"We wanted to do something to mark the UN day here in Ireland and we were delighted and honoured that so many sports stars wanted to support it," she said.

Irish Independent

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