A Canadian hockey player says he was forced to leave the ice in the middle of a game last week after he could no longer stand the racist, threatening taunts being hurled at him and his family by fans in the crowd.
Jonathan Diaby, 24, who plays defense for Marquis de Jonquiere in Saguenay, Quebec, said he, his family and his girlfriend were called “negroes” and “baboons” by spectators during a Feb. 24 match against Petroliers du Nord, in Saint-Jérôme, Quebec. He said the incident, which began when one fan from the home team started in on him as he sat in the penalty box, left his sister and girlfriend rattled and even drove him to tears.
“I had to put my jersey over my face because I was like, I had teardrops, you know,” Diaby told CBC News in a recent interview. “They started yelling racist stuff at my parents and my sister and myself. Go negro, baboons, a bunch of stuff.”
“My dad was told to go back home,” he added. “That he had no business in this country. They were touching his hair, making fun of him.”
Diaby said the drama started during the first period of the game when he claimed a fan showed him photos of a monkey from his cellphone as the player served his time in the penalty box near the opposing team’s fans. The hockey player said he’s suffered racism before, but nothing like this. Video from the incident showed spectators climbing the boards and hurling insults at Diaby from behind the glass.
Diaby’s coach, Benoit Gratton, condemned the fans’ behavior, saying: “It’s 2019, it’s something we shouldn’t see anymore. I think it’s disgusting.”
“Intolerance of differences is based in ignorance,” Gratton added. “To fight this problem we have to denounce it and discuss it, and it’s for this reason that I invite you to share this video.”
According to CBC, the racial abuse became so severe that Diaby and his family left the arena before the match was over. Referees, Diaby said, did nothing to protect his family from the offensive taunts, and security declined to kick fans out because “nobody threw any punches.”
The incident drew an apology from Diaby’s league, Ligue Nord-Americaine de Hockey (LNAH). Commissioner Jean-Francois Laplante issued a statement in French, telling the CBC that racist, sexist, and homophobic comments are unacceptable.
The owner of the opposing team said they are now taking steps to identify the fans involved to ban them from attending future games.
“This is not hockey. Nobody should feel threatened to go watch his son play a hockey game,” Diaby told the station.
Watch more in the video below.