Belgian football club opens investigation into racist incident after player left field in tears
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    Belgian football club opens investigation into racist incident after player left field in tears

    Charleroi midfield player Ilaimaharitra left the field in tears after a racist incident. Credit: Belga

    The Belgian football club KV Mechelen will open an investigation into a fan who shouted derogatory racist slurs at Charleroi midfielder Marco Ilaimaharitra, resulting in him leaving the field in tears during the Belgian Pro League game on Sunday.

    Ilaimaharitra reported the behaviour to the referee and the assistant referee, but they had both not heard anything. After he reacted to the fan while still on the field and protested to the referee, he received a yellow card. The incident resulted in chaos during the game after which Ilaimaharitra decided to leave the playing field.

    “After the match, the delegate talked to him so that he could tell his story,” said Gert Van Dyck, the chairman of the supporters’ club and a member of the club’s board of directors, reports De Morgen. “We also contacted the Charleroi football club yesterday to apologize and to make it clear that we are going to do something about this,” he added.

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    This is one of the many racist incidents that have been happening during football games. Several weeks ago, a match between England and Bulgaria was stopped twice because the Bulgarian fans kept singing racist chants to English players. Belgian striker Romelu Lukaku has also complained before, after Italian fans made monkey sounds every time he got the ball.

    “Everyone could see that the player was greatly affected. He indicated that there was one person who looked at him for a long time while doing a Hitler salute up to three times,” said Van Dyck on Radio 2. “We will ban him from our stadium. Our security people are busy analysing the images in order to be able to identify the man,” he added.

    “If all players that fall victim to racism leave the field, clubs will start acting more strict,” said Frank Van Laeken, who wrote the book ‘Vuile Zwarte’ about racism in Belgian football, reports De Morgen. “I do not think the number of incidents is increasing, but our social sensitivity to them is getting bigger. Now it is finally reported about in the media, and that’s the beginning of a solution. Five years ago, this incident might have stayed under the radar,” he added.

    Maïthé Chini
    The Brussels Times