Roma striker Tammy Abraham on racism in soccer: 'These things hurt people'

·2 min read

ROME (AP) — Before it was Vinícius Júnior in Spain, it was Romelu Lukaku in Italy. And Mario Balotelli. And Kevin-Prince Boateng. And countless others.

Whoever it is, the damages from fan racism go far beyond the soccer field, Roma striker Tammy Abraham said Thursday.

“It’s only a small minority of people but a small minority of people can affect somebody’s life,” said Abraham, who grew up in England as the son of Nigerian parents. “We are more than just footballers; we’re humans as well. We do have feelings, so these things hurt people.

“We might not show it — or we cannot show it on the pitch — but these things do affect us,” Abraham added at Roma’s media day ahead of the Europa League final. “These things need to stop. ... It’s a small minority of silly people that need to change.”

Repeated insults against Vinícius, a Brazilian forward who plays for Real Madrid, have unleashed a heated debate about racism in Spain.

Lukaku has also been subjected to discriminatory chants on numerous occasions during his two stints at Inter Milan.

Last month, Italian soccer federation president Gabriele Gravina had to intervene to suspend a one-match ban for Lukaku after he reacted to racist chants and was given a yellow card for provoking Juventus fans by holding his finger to his lips as if to silence the crowd upon converting a stoppage-time penalty.

In 2019, Balotelli drop-kicked a ball high into the stands when he grew frustrated by racist chants from Hellas Verona supporters.

And a decade ago, Boateng was playing for AC Milan when he kicked the ball in anger at a section of the crowd chanting racist insults during a friendly match with lower-division club Pro Patria, took off his shirt and walked off the field with the rest of his teammates.

“I’ve seen what’s going on in Spain, we’ve had it in the past in Italy. We’ve had it around the world,” said Abraham, who is Black. “Myself, I’ve only experienced it when I was with the England under-21s, which was a long time ago. … We’re all one and we’re trying to make a change. Football has no home. Football is for the world.”

Roma plays Spanish club Sevilla in the Europa League final next week in Budapest, Hungary.

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Andrew Dampf is at https://twitter.com/AndrewDampf

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AP soccer: https://apnews.com/hub/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Andrew Dampf, The Associated Press