LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 27: Neymar of Brazil is chased down by Barry Bannan of Scotland during the International friendly match between Brazil and Scotland at Emirates Stadium on March 27, 2011 in London, England. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)

Neymar Refuses To Retract 'Atmosphere Of Racism' Statement After Scottish FA Demands Apology

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Neymar Refuses To Retract 'Atmosphere Of Racism' Remark

As we should all have expected from the very instant that a banana appeared on the pitch at the Emirates Stadium last weekend during Scotland's 2-0 defeat to Brazil, the racism row isn't going to die down anytime soon. After the match, 19 year-old Neymar mentioned in an interview that the 'atmosphere of racism' had disturbed him - and he had a point, considering that bananas are used as racist taunts against non-white footballer (and for some reason, Brazilians are disproportionately targetted) across much of Europe and the appearance of one at a football match would be unsettling for even a veteran player.

Meanwhile, the Scottish FA is understandably furious that its supporters were associated with the taint of racism, and has rather vigourously denied the possibility of any such 'atmosphere of racism' existing. They were totally correct, as it turned out, as the banana was thrown by a German rather than by the Scottish support, and any jeering was caused by the striker's habit of going to ground at the lightest touch.

With neither side really considering how offended the other was by the events of Sunday, it's totally unsurprising that the row has escalated. As soon as it was proven that the banana was not tossed by a Scotland fan, the Scottish FA wrote to their Brazilian counterparts to demand an apology from either the FA or Neymar himself, rekindling the affair after it looked to have died down. Neymar, for his part, thinks that there's absolutely no call for him to apologise:

At no time, even at the end of the game, still enveloped by the thrill of scoring the two goals that won the game, did I accuse any person or any group of supporters, of whatever nationality, of having committed such an act.

Yes, I did lament the fact, condemn any and all prejudice, but I repeat, at no time did I accuse anybody. So I do not understand why I have to retract what I said.

The requirement from the Scottish, after all that happened, seems somewhat ironic, since, if there has been prejudice, it is us, the players, who should 'require' a formal apology.

Elements of that statement are bizarre - there was certainly a strong implication that Scotland fans were the ones causing problems for Brazil, and thus were being implicated in the racism fiasco. But at the same time, it seems like lunacy to demand that a player who believed he was suffering from abuse apologise when a racist gesture was clearly made.

Neither side is coming across particularly well here, and until one of them lets it go, we're going to be stuck in an annoying back-and-forth for the rest of our mortal days. What fun.


Scottish FA Demands Apology From Neymar And Brazil After Racism Allegations Prove Unfounded

Although the unfortunate banana-throwing incident in the international friendly between Scotland and Brazil looked like it was about to blow over, the Scottish FA has reignited the minor row by demanding an apology from either Neymar or the Brazilian FA for the young forward's comments after the match. Neymar was understandably incensed after a banana - commonly used in European matches as a form of racial abuse - was tossed onto the field shortly after he scored his second goal of the game, and mentioned the incident in the post-match interview, calling the 'atmosphere of racism' sad.

As it turns out, the banana had nothing to do with the Scottish fans, and in turn the Scottish FA feels that their supporters were unfairly smeared by the racism allegations. In a statement today chief executive Stewart Regan said he had written to his Brazilian counterpart demanding an apology:

Scotland's supporters were genuinely upset and annoyed that the unfounded allegations levelled against them threatened to sully their reputation as fair, good humoured and respectful spectators.

As the matter has been resolved, and Scotland supporters cleared of any involvement, we felt it was only right that we acted on behalf of our supporters to request an apology either from the player involved, or the Brazilian FA.

Obviously (and understandably), the Scottish didn't particularly like being called racists, but they probably would have been better served by letting bygones be bygones rather than going after Neymar once it was shown that there was not actually any racism involved. After all, Neymar did have a banana thrown at him - it's difficult to blame him for assuming that there was a hint of racial abuse behind the gesture.


German Admits Throwing Banana At Neymar During Scotland-Brazil Friendly

After Brazil striker Neymar complained of racist abuse in the form of a hurled banana during the friendly between Brazil and Scotland, which Brazil won 2-0, there was quite a lot of fuss - Scottish fans claimed that he was merely being booed for his tendency to fall down a lot, while Neymar quite rightly pointed out that people don't normally have bananas thrown at them in a gentle and loving manner.

To deepen the mystery, the offending object didn't even emerge from the Tartan Army end, so nobody had any idea who the perpetrator was, some even accusing Brazil fans of throwing the banana in celebration (if you bought that story, I have several thousand acres on Mars to sell you). Scotland fans were right to suspect that it wasn't one of their own who did the deed, as it turns out, because according to the Guardian a German has now admitted to throwing it, apparently with 'no racist intent':

Teenage German tourist admits throwing banana on to the pitch during Brazil v Scotland ...less than a minute ago via TweetDeck

The really interesting point of the story, to me at least, is the flak Neymar got from reporting the incident. Picture this: You're a 19 year-old who doesn't understand English, you're being booed by thousands of people (again, in a language you don't speak), and someone makes an obviously racist gesture. What exactly are you supposed to think there? It's perfectly reasonable to conclude that you were the subject of racist abuse, and the Santos striker was also quick to move on from the incident.

The behaviour of Scottish fans at the match itself was commendable, and allegations of racism are serious enough to make their subsequent defensiveness understandable, but there was only one victim here: Neymar himself. Vilifying the boy seems, to me at least, to have been an incorrect response to the bizarre affair.


Neymar Will Not Pursue Racism Complaint After Banana Incident In Scotland-Brazil Friendly

Brazil and Santos striker Neymar has opted against lodging an official complaint over the now-infamous banana-throwing incident that occurred towards the end of the international friendly between Brazil and Scotland at Arsenal's Emirates Stadium on Sunday. Neymar scored both goals in Brazil's 2-0 win, but drew the ire of Scottish fans for embellishing several fouls and was jeered for much of the match. How things went from fairly standard booing to someone lobbing a banana - a gesture frequently used to taunt players of African descent in Russia - is unclear.

Also unclear is the identity of the fruit tosser. Was he a Brazil fan? A Scotland fan? A neutral? It seems unlikely that Brazilians would be racist to one of their own players, so let's rule them out, and the Tartan Army section was on the other side of the pitch, although it's still entirely possible that one of the many Scotland fans scattered throughout the stadium could have been the banana-delivery-vector. Anyway, whoever it was isn't going to get in any trouble over the incident (although they should be ashamed of themselves). When asked if he was going to file a complaint, Neymar responded (quote via Daily Mail):

No. That's in the past. I go back to Brazil now and have already forgotten about it.

If it was (a) Scottish (fan) or if it wasn't, we cannot prove it. It was one isolated case. Life goes on.

I hope whoever did it, will think about it, and not do it again. It shouldn't happen anywhere. It doesn't take away my happiness of the performance.

If nothing else, this has been a reminder that the actions of one person can have a grave impact on the reputations of many, however unfair it may be. A rogue fan has succeeded in having people associate Scotland as a whole with racism, and that's deeply disturbing.


Scotland-Brazil Clash Marred By Allegations Of Racism

Brazil's 2-0 victory over Scotland saw Santos wonderkid Neymar find the net twice, but the game was marred somewhat by the 19 year-old's accusation of racism from fans at the Emirates Stadium. According to Neymar, who has been linked for several months to some of Europe's top teams, a banana was thrown onto the pitch after Brazil had scored their second goal. Liverpool midfielder Lucas Leiva removed the object from the pitch. After the match, Neymar discussed the situation with the media:

I was running down the touchline in the second half and saw it but I didn't see where it came from. They were jeering me a lot, even when I was about to kick the penalty. The entire stadium was jeering. This atmosphere of racism is totally sad. We leave our country to play here and something like this happens. It's sad.

As Lucas said after the match, there's zero place for racism in the sport, and it's disappointing to hear about something like this. The Scottish fans present at the Emirates have hotly denied that any such incident took place (and considering Scotland's performance, they'd probably be wise to hotly deny that any such game took place), but it's unclear as to why Brazilian players would simply manufacture a story about racism after what amounted to a comfortable friendly win. Tartan Army (the name given to fans of the Scottish national team) spokesman Hamish Husband has claimed that it's somehow inconceivable that members of his group could possibly be racist:

Racism has no place within the Tartan Army and, if it did exist, it would be stamped out immediately. Any suggestion of racism from Scottish fans is absolute tosh. We would not tolerate that it if existed within our ranks.

While I appreciate the sentiment there, the circular reasoning is worrying - every group has undesirable elements and the above quote simply sounds as though Husband is denying even the possibility of a problem. The Tartan Army isn't racist because it isn't racist isn't really a very valid argument, and I'd hope that they're at least looking into the incident rather than dismissing it out of hand.

This, of course, wouldn't be the first time that a Brazilian player has been taunted with a banana, but it's one of the few high-profile racism incidents to have occurred in England recently, as the FA have taken great lengths to try to stamp it out in the terraces. However, the problem is still rife in Eastern Europe and Russia, where West Bromwich Albion and Nigeria striker Peter Odemwingie was the subject of racist taunts from his own fans when he played for Lokomotiv Moscow.

In the words of Brazil coach Mano Menezes, the situation at the Emirates was a lamentable one, and it's taken far too much focus from a magnificent Brazil performance from a team missing many of their top players. Scotland, captained by Kenny Miller, were simply blown off the pitch and but for a brief spell in the second half which coincided with the introduction of Aston Villa's Barry Bannan never looked like they'd come close to scoring.

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