Mourinho: Boycott Would Not Help Racism Fight

José Mourinho has suggested boycotting the 2018 World Cup finals in Russia would not benefit the fight against racism in the game and urged any players considering such a move not to punish the majority of supporters for the “disgraceful behaviour” of a small minority.

The Manchester City midfielder Yaya Touré had raised the possibility of a boycott of the tournament by black players after complaining of racist abuse from home supporters during his club’s Champions League victory at CSKA Moscow on Wednesday. Uefa has opened up disciplinary proceedings against the Russian club, who deny any wrongdoing by their fans, and will rule next week whether sanctions are to be imposed.

An internal investigation is also under way at the governing body as to why the Romanian referee, Ovidiu Hategan, did not follow protocol on the night having been made aware of the chants by Touré. City will be providing witness statements to Uefa with the club’s manager, Manuel Pellegrini, wary of prejudicing or prejudging the process. “Yaya did the right thing to say what happened and we will see what Uefa will do about it,” the Chilean said. “Everyone knows what happened and we will see in the future what happens.”

Mourinho echoed Pellegrini in condemning any racist abuse that may have occurred, and expressed sympathy for Touré, but did not concur with the Ivory Coast midfielder’s stance on the World Cup in five years’ time. “I respect his opinion, but I disagree,” he said. “The history of football was made equally by many races, and the black players make a fantastic contribution to what football is. Go to the World Cup and it’s the biggest expression of national team competitions: races, people from different parts of the globe, people from every continent. And the black players are very, very important for that.

“Who is more important? The billions of people in love with the game around the world, or a few thousand that go to football stadia and have a disgraceful behaviour in relation to the black players. If I was a black player, I would say the other billions are much more important. Let’s fight the thousands but give to the billions what they want: the best football. Football without black players is not the best football, for sure.”

Those comments prompted a furious reaction from Garth Crooks, a trustee at, a trustee at Kick It Out, who stated on the anti-racism organisation’s website: “I am disappointed with Mourinho’s comments, about how he feels that black players should go into a hostile racial environment in order to show them how good they are. Now there is a man who has never had to suffer racial abuse.”

The former Tottenham Hotspur forward was equally scathing with regard to Arsène Wenger who, while denouncing racism, had pointed out that the case against CSKA Moscow was as yet “not proven”, pending the Uefa investigation. “For Wenger to ask for further evidence is extraordinary given the fact that Yaya heard the evidence reported and his club have backed their captain on the night.” added Crooks.

CSKA were adamant in a statement issued on Thursday that their own investigation into Touré’s complaints had not turned up any evidence of racist abuse. Indeed, they had quoted the City midfielder’s compatriot, the striker Seydou Doumbia, as claiming he had been “overreacting” to claims of monkey chants at the Khimki Arena. However, the Russian club’s stance has been somewhat undermined since when Doumbia insisted on his Facebook fan page that he had never said anything of the sort.

“I want to clarify my position after my Ivory Coast team mate and friend Yaya Touré accused CSKA fans of racism,” read a statement posted in both English and French on the page, which appears genuine. “I want to insist that I did not talk to any journalist about these facts so none of the quotes you read in the press came from me.” Regardless, the comments were still displayed on the club’s own website as part of a story claiming they were “surprised and disappointed” by Touré’s allegations.

“Doumbia is a young brother, someone I admire who I have known a long time,” said Touré on BBC Afrique, part of the World Service. “We come from the same country. I don’t want to say things that will put him in trouble but you can see a little bit the manipulation around all this. I am not deaf. We are all humans. It is not a nice feeling to go and play a football match, to bring joy to the people and to be called a monkey or to hear monkey noises. I don’t look like a monkey. Other people must have seen it. But it is so pathetic and so sad to see things [racism] like that. I am ashamed to still have to talk about this subject.”

Hategan, too, faces possible sanction, having failed to stop the match and ask for an announcement to be made over the public address system urging spectators to stop the chanting or risk the temporary suspension of the game. Had any abuse persisted, the referee could then have abandoned the match.

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