African Players Walk Out on Russian Soccer Club After Coach’s Offensive Comment

photo from

Igor Gamula  photo from

After the coach of a Russian professional soccer club made offensive comments last week regarding his African players, the players have refused to train with the team.

On Friday, coach Igor Gamula of the Russian club FC Rostov said his club had “enough dark-skinned players, we’ve got six of the things,” according to

Paul Mitchell, agent for Rostov’s South African defender Siyanda Xulu, told that the five African players “are not prepared to train under the current coach until such time as the situation has been dealt with.

Gamula’s comments are just the latest in a head-spinning spate of racist comments and actions directed at Black athletes. While racism in sports is hardly new, the latest incidents still seem shocking at a time when Blacks seem to be such a dominant force in the sports world.

Of course there was the infamous case of Donald Sterling, former owner of the Los Angeles Clippers who was caught on tape making racist comments just before last year’s NBA playoffs. The team responded by dumping their Clippers warmup jackets and pants on the court to show their disgust with Sterling. The NBA owners voted to remove Sterling from the NBA by forcing him to sell the team.

More recently, Atlanta Hawks co-owner Bruce Levenson offered to sell his portion of the team when he found an e-mail he had written two years ago that he considered to be “inappropriate and offensive.”

In the international arena of soccer, racism has been a continual problem. In 2007, Serge Branco, a midfielder from Cameroon who played in a Russian league, endured constant racial abuse from fans of the Zenit St. Petersburg soccer club, according to the New York Times.

In 2008, Zenit manager Dick Advocaat reportedly said, “I would be happy to sign anyone, but the fans don’t like Black players.”

It was in 2011 when a Zenit fan offered a banana to Roberto Carlos, a Brazilian player.

Zenit was also the last top-level Russian club to have never signed a Black player until September 2012, when it signed the Brazilian forward Hulk and Belgian Axel Witsel.

In hockey, P.K. Subban, the Black defenseman for the Montreal Canadiens, was bombarded with racist tweets after his game winning goal in double overtime against the Boston Bruins in Game 1 of the series. Using Twitter, Bruins fans broadcasted their offensive and racist language.

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