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Activists target French football chief for downplaying racism

PSG's Neymar argues with the fourth official as he leaves the pitch after getting a red card during the French League One soccer match between Paris Saint-Germain and Marseille at the Parc des Princes in Paris, France, Sunday, Sept.13, 2020

French anti-racism activists criticized the country’s soccer federation president on Wednesday for not taking the sport’s problems seriously enough.

The SOS Racisme campaign group issued a statement asking Noel Le Graet and other French soccer officials ”to stop treating questions of racism with such disdain.”

The debate in French soccer flared after Paris Saint-Germain star Neymar claimed he was racially abused by a Marseille player during a heated league game between the traditional rivals Sunday.

Asked about the incident, Le Graet – the French federation president and a European delegate to the ruling committee of world governing body FIFA – said the problem of racism was ”at less than one percent now. ”

”When a Black player scores a goal, the whole stadium is on its feet,” the 78-year-old Le Graet told broadcaster BFM Business. ”This phenomenon of racism in sport, and in football in particular, does not exist at all or barely does.”

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SOS Racisme said ”once again it seems that the governing bodies in football are reluctant to take the problem seriously.”

The activist group later displayed a banner targeting Le Graet outside the Paris headquarters of the French federation.

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