June 10, 2020 / 2:38 PM / 24 days ago

Soccer-Need more than hashtags, campaigns to curb racism, says Kanoute

BENGALURU, June 10 (Reuters) - Racism in sport and society cannot be removed merely by a few campaigns as it is entrenched the world over, former Mali and Sevilla forward Frederic Kanoute said on Wednesday, adding he would nevertheless help Spain’s La Liga fight the menace.

Speaking to reporters from London, the 42-year-old said he hoped the Black Lives Matter protests in the United States after the death of George Floyd, a black American man who died after a white police officer knelt on his neck, would be a wake-up call.

“When I’m asked about racism generally, I say it’s much more than football. If we think we’re going to tackle racism because sometimes we make a couple of campaigns in football, we are completely wrong,” Kanoute said.

“I think it’s throughout the society... It will take much more than just a few protests and a few hashtags. It’s a long process because we can see it’s ingrained in the minds of a lot of people.”

Kanoute, who is the La Liga ambassador, said he would help the Spanish top flight in its fight against the menace but added there is no room for complacency anywhere.

“I’ll support and encourage La Liga to tackle all forms of discrimination and racism, but definitely it’s never enough.”

“The overt racism (in society) maybe isn’t so much there anymore but the covert (racism) is the big part of the iceberg so we have to keep working a lot... I’m not going to single out La Liga or any other league... it’s throughout the world.

The La Liga season will restart on Thursday following a long pause due to the COVID-19 pandemic when Kanoute’s former side take on Real Betis without fans present.

“They (fans) can expect a fantastic game,” Kanoute said. “Even though there won’t be any fans in the stadium it’s still going to be exciting.” (Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru, Editing by William Maclean)

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