A 26-year-old Turkish footballer walked off the pitch in tears during a domestic league game last week, after supporters of his own team verbally assaulted him.
The insults allegedly involved the footballer’s recently deceased mother, a post on social website Reddit stated.
Apparently overwhelmed by the verbal abuse, Trabzonspor player Volkan Sen left the pitch crying in the 42nd minute and headed to the dressing room, refusing to resume the second half of the game.
His teammates and officials tried to console him, but their failed attempts forced the team’s coach Mustafa Akçay to call for a substitute two minutes before half time began.
Three spectators were detained by police over the incident, reported Today Zaman.
“This is a human job. We have a person with [displaying] emotional implosion here. You could talk about discipline, but for me, respect for a human comes before discipline,” Akçay said, in a statement carried by Insideworldfootball.com.
However, while Akçay sympathized with the player, Trabzonspor’s chairman perceived Sen’s act as “childish.”
“Swearing at players is unacceptable. It is impossible for us to accept such a thing, but it [walking off the pitch] was not becoming of a professional football player,” İbrahim Hacıosmanoğlu told Today Zaman.
More protection for players
The phenomenon of verbally attacking football players has become widespread internationally, according to industry experts.
Analysts speaking to Al Arabiya English suggested ways in which authorities could prevent such misbehavior by audience members.
Saudi sports analyst Wissam al-Jibreel said media awareness plays an important role in fighting such behavior.
“In the United Kingdom, racial and religious insults have been considerably decreasing because of awareness spread by media,” Jibreel said.
Jibreel said that chanting insults is now the norm in the UK’s football arena and fans can get away with some insults. However, he clarified that racial and religious abuse is punishable by law.
Egyptian sports analyst Mahmoud Sabri suggested that football associations around the world should take off points from teams whose fans misbehave, as a form of punishment.
“In Italy, points are deducted from clubs where fans offend players, journalists, referees, etc.” he said.
The analyst said footballers are human beings who only have a limited threshold concerning the amount of insults they can take before breaking down.
“Players need to feel secure and respected,” Sabri added.
Arab fans and players
Jibreel recalled that former Egyptian striker Ahmad Houssam Mido was insulted at a British football field, due to his Arab descent.
The former Tottenham Hotspur striker was labeled the “son of a terrorist” by spectators at some matches, Jibreel said.
Racial and personal insults are also common among Arab fans.
Sabri recalled a case between fans of Egypt’s major football rivals, Ahly and Zamalek.
Ahly fans used to racially insult Zamalek’s superstar player Mahmoud Shikabala, Sabri said.
“Ahly fans used to throw banana skins on the field, and peanuts when Shikabala used to play,” attempting to irritate the dark-skinned player, Sabri stated.
Zamalek fans would respond by attacking Ahly’s striker Emad Meteb by raising slogans and posters that insult the player’s wife Yara Naoum, who was crowned Miss Egypt in 2008.