Domestic results in Portugal’s top division this weekend opened up the prospect of an exciting and closely-fought title race until the end of the season. Unfortunately, none of the headlines will be about that. A disgraceful incident took place in the Vitória Guimarães versus FC Porto match that leaves an ugly stain on the beautiful game in the country.
Porto striker Moussa Marega, who scored what turned out to be the winning goal, was the subject of racist abuse from the home supporters and refused to play on. As he stormed off the pitch, his Porto teammates and coach Sérgio Conceição, as well as the Vitória players, tried to persuade him to change his mind. Marega was resolute in his decision, however, and ended up being substituted. Tom Kundert reports and brings ongoing reaction.
It was shortly after Marega had scored on the hour mark that a section of the Vitória supporters subjected him to abuse, including monkey chants. The Malian centre-forward – who had a successful spell at Vitória Guimarães prior to his transfer to Porto – was so incensed by the insults that he stormed off the pitch, indicating to the Porto bench that he wanted to be substituted.
Teammates, oppositions players, and Porto coach Sérgio Conceição tried to get him to change his mind, but to no avail. Conceição meanwhile turned to the stands and angrily remonstrated with the supporters, shouting “You’re a fucking disgrace!” See the video of the incident below.
Marega was substituted by Manafá, the match continued and FC Porto held on for a 2-1 win. Porto boycotted the post-match press conference, but Conceição reacted strongly to what had happened in the flash interview:
“Excuse me from talking about the match itself. The game is pushed into the background. We are completely outraged about what happened. I know the passion there is here at Vitória for the club [Sérgio Conceição coached Vitória Guimarães in 2015/16], but most of the fans do not identify with the attitudes of some people here who were in the stands insulting Moussa since the warm-up. We are a family regardless of nationality, skin colour, height, hair colour… We are a family. We are human beings. We deserve respect. What happened here is deplorable! Deplorable!”
Porto posted messages on their official Twitter account showing their support to Marega.
And later in the evening Porto issued a brief press release, reading as follows:
“1. The entire FC Porto organisation and its fans fully support Moussa Marega, who was forced to take drastic action in the wake of repeated racist insults.
2. FC Porto repudiates and vehemently condemns the racist behaviour this afternoon, which comprises one of the lowest points in the recent history of Portuguese football and must be duly punished.
3. FC Porto shall remain on the front line in the fight against racism and hate crimes and its team wants to continue fighting against them on the pitch.”
As for the reaction from Vitória Guimarães, coach Ivo Vieira said he would not comment on the incident because he did not fully understand what had happened. Vitória president Miguel Pinto, however, while emphasising that his club condemns discriminatory behaviour, suggested Marega was at fault for provoking the fans.
“We are a club that believes in equality. Indeed there is a phrase at the entrance of the stadium alluding to this. If any of the Vitória fans behaved in a way that goes against this (tenet), due measures will be taken – we will look at the CCTV. However, it seems to us there was provocative behaviour that had the intention of inciting the crowd. This is not the first time this player has taken such an attitude. He was a player of Vitória Guimarães and also wanted to walk off the pitch during a match, and it had nothing to do with racism. The player in question has the profile he has...”
Marega himself took to Social Media to express his disgust in no uncertain terms on his Instagram account:
“I just want to say to these idiots who come to the stadium to shout racist chants… go fuck yourselves. I also thank the officials for not defending me and giving me a yellow card because I defend the colour of my skin. I hope I never meet you again on a football pitch. YOU ARE A DISGRACE!!!!!”
Fernando Gomes, head of the Portuguese Football Federation:
“Racist behaviour is intolerable in an open and developed society. The perpetrators of racist insults should be identified and brought to justice. The Portuguese Football Federation repudiates racist behaviour, wherever it comes from and anywhere it takes place... The Portuguese Football Federation expresses its solidarity with the player Moussa Marega. While I am president of the FPF, I guarantee that I will continue to do my utmost so that supporters who do not respect football are definitively banned from stadiums. This is an urgent combat of society as a whole.”
The Portuguese Liga, the authority that oversees the domestic game in Portugal:
“The values of football are not compatible with what happened tonight in the stadium of Vitória Sport Clube in which a player could no longer bear the insults he was the target of and decided to abandon the match. These acts shame Football and human dignity… The Portuguese Liga will do everything so that this, and all incidents of racism, do not go unpunished, in the belief that this is a fight without colour and where everyone has a decisive role to play to eradicate this scourge.”
João Paulo Rebelo, Secretary of State for Youth and Sport:
“What happened tonight in the match between Vitória Sport Clube and FC Porto is absolutely intolerable and unacceptable. The insults directed at the player Marega shame all those who fight for an inclusive society. The values of sport have nothing to do with these racist, xenophobic and appalling attitudes. The Authority for Prevention and Combat against Violence in Sport is already working with the police and sports authorities to identify and severely punish those responsible for this sad episode …
“Finally, a word for Marega, an excellent professional, who I want to acknowledge as showing an attitude of great dignity and which helps everyone who loves sport come together in the fight against intolerance, racism and violence in sport.”
Portuguese Prime Minister, António Costa:
All and any acts of racism are a crime and intolerable. No human being should be subject to this humiliation. Nobody can be indifferent. I condemn all acts of racism, in whatever circumstances.
Several clubs and players, both in Portugal and abroad, also took to social media to show their support with Marega and express their repudiation of racism.
Não ao racismo!— CD Tondela (@CDTondela1933) February 16, 2020
O CD Tondela perante os acontecimentos ocorridos hoje no jogo Vitória SC - FC Porto vem por este meio demonstrar a sua solidariedade com o atleta do @FCPorto, Moussa Marega. pic.twitter.com/i0yHcTyU9A
O #SportingCP vem por este meio manifestar a sua solidariedade com o jogador Marega do FC Porto e repudiar qualquer acto de racismo e preconceito social.— Sporting Clube de Portugal (@Sporting_CP) February 16, 2020
Comunicado na íntegra 👉 https://t.co/AcWElha4CU pic.twitter.com/xd5DHnmRyw
Sempre contra o racismo. Em todos os momentos em que ele se revele. pic.twitter.com/aF2W5wJbku— SL Benfica (@SLBenfica) February 16, 2020
Juntos 🤝 pic.twitter.com/uvveAMdfsN— Pepe (@officialpepe) February 16, 2020
The Portuguese press on Monday morning:
Jornal de Notícias: MAREGA – GOALS HAVE NO COLOUR
A Bola: WE ARE MAREGA
Record: MAREGA 5-0 RACISM
O Jogo: CRIME