Swedish midfielder Jimmy Durmaz made a statement after receiving death threats and racist comments on social media, after committing the foul that led to Toni Kroos’s goal.#SWE #WorldCup pic.twitter.com/XBJZx7I79f— Rodolfo Landeros (@RodolfoLanderos) June 25, 2018
A Swedish soccer player has come out strongly against criticisms leveled against him due to his heritage.
Midfielder Jimmy Durmaz was born in Sweden to Assyrian parents who emigrated to the country many years ago from Turkey. He considers himself Swedish, although some fans suggested otherwise after a recent loss at the World Cup, launching death threats against him and his family, as well as using racist epithets.
After his team’s match against Germany, in which he committed a foul that led to a penalty kick that secured a loss for his team, Durmaz had expected some fallout from his fans over what had transpired.
“I am a footballer at the highest level. To be criticized is something we have to live with,” Durmaz said.
However, he said he didn’t expect his race to play a factor in those criticisms.
“But to be called bloody darkie, suicide killer, and for my family, my children, to have death threats. That is completely unacceptable,” he explained in a statement joined by his teammates behind him. “I am Swedish, and I am proud to be wearing this shirt and our flag.”
Durmaz recognized and thanked most of his team’s fans for being “nice, lovely people” who still supported him as a player. At the end of his statement, Durmaz and his teammates said together, in unison, “F--- racism!”
The World Cup is an event that is supposed to bring people around the globe together, not push us apart based on our cultural differences. Bigotry should have no place at the event, although unfortunately it has reared its ugly head on too many occasions this year.
Racism should be rejected in all avenues of society, but especially in sport. We should celebrate athletes who stand up against societal racism, and we should scoff at fans who choose their favorite players based on prejudicial beliefs. The Swedish players performed a valuable service in decrying the racism they witnessed firsthand.