A furious player for one of Europe’s top football clubs has blasted “idiots” who targeted him with racist abuse so vile that he walked off the pitch during a game.
FC Porto striker Moussa Marega, who is from Mali, was visibly angered by monkey noises aimed at him after he scored Porto’s second goal in a 2-1 win at Guimarães in the Portuguese football league.
But when Marega started to walk off the field, several players from both his own side and Guimarães appeared to argue with him.
Porto coach Sérgio Conceição also went on the field and spoke with Marega. It took Marega several minutes to leave the field.
The upset player held his thumbs down at the crowd as he went into the tunnel to the changing rooms. The crowd responded with loud jeers.
The attitude of both the fans and other players has drawn criticism on social media.
“We are indignant with what has happened. Moussa was insulted from warmups (before kickoff),” Conceição said after the match. “We deserve respect and what happened was despicable.”
Marega posted a message on Instagram expressing fury at the episode.
“I would just like to tell these idiots who come to the stadium to make racist shouts ... go f*** yourself,” he wrote.
He also took a swipe at the referee for issuing a yellow card after he pointed to his skin during his goal celebration: “I hope I never meet you on a football field again!”
Porto coach Sergio Conceicao said he and his club felt "outraged" by the racism, adding that the monkey chants began during the pre-game warm-up.
"We are a family, whatever our nationality, skin color, height, hair color," he said. "What happened here was pitiful."
FC Porto has said it stands by Marega, adding it is "compelled to take drastic action" after repeated racist slurs during the game. In a statement, the club said the insults were "a low point in the recent history of Portuguese soccer and must be punished appropriately."
The Portuguese league said the behavior of some fans in the stadium "shame soccer and human dignity." Marega "could no longer bear the insults targeted at him and chose to leave the game", the league said in a statement.
The league will do everything in its power to impose punishments and stamp out racism, the statement said.
Portuguese police said they were not immediately able to identify who hurled the abuse at Marega inside the stadium because of the large crowd. However, officers were investigating Monday, reportedly including sifting through closed-circuit TV images taken inside the stadium.
In Portugal, racist insults and threats carry a prison sentence of up to five years in prison.