Barcelona defends Messi over racial abuse claims
Barcelona has staunchly defended Lionel Messi over claims he
racially abused a black Real Madrid player several seasons ago,
calling such claims ”well wide of the mark.”
Dutch midfielder Royston Drenthe, who is currently on loan at
Everton, was quoted in a Dutch magazine as saying he was taunted by
the Argentina forward and three-time world player of the year
during several of their Spanish league encounters.
Barcelona steadfastly denied Messi ever abused an opponent.
”The player has always shown a maximum respect and
sportsmanship towards his rivals, something which has been
recognized by his fellow professionals many times, and we are sure
that any accusations to the contrary are well wide of the mark,”
the Spanish club said in a statement on Thursday. ”His behavior
throughout his career has always been exemplary.”
Drenthe, who is black, claims Messi used the word ”negro” in a
negative tone. Liverpool’s Luis Suarez was banned for eight games
for taunting Manchester United’s Patrice Evra with the same word
seven times in a match between the two teams.
Drenthe was quoted as telling Helden magazine that he was
”bothered” by the tone in which Messi ”always called me ‘negro,
Drenthe said he realized that the term is commonly used in South
American countries, but that ”we cannot stand it.”
Drenthe played several seasons at Madrid before being loaned to
Hercules last season, and he moved to Everton this season. The
25-year-old never cemented his place at either Spanish club due to
on-field performances and off-field problems, and was recently
excluded from manager David Moyes’ squad for disciplinary
Messi has scored an unprecedented 72 goals in all competitions
this season, including a league record 50.
”It’s indisputable, he’s the best (player in the world) and he
deserves another Ballon d’Or,” Barcelona teammate Isaac Cuenca
said on Thursday.