Espanyol’s Sergio García abused Samuel Umtiti after Espanyol’s 1-1 draw against FC Barcelona, according to multiple media outlets. García allegedly called Umtiti a “black s—-t” after the full time whistle, which understandably upset the Frenchman.
García had also committed this reckless foul on Umtiti during the match:
The referee, Jesús Gil Manzano, did not catch the insults, though he did note that the players argued after the full time whistle. He did not specify any names.
Gerard Piqué reportedly had to intervene to separate the two as they went into the tunnel. MARCA also reports that later on, García went into the visitors’ dressing room to apologize to Umtiti, an apology which was accepted.
García took to his Instagram to post a quasi-apology slash explanation:
Sergio Garcia literally wrote that things he said to Umtiti weren't racist because he has a black friend and because his wife is Romani... pic.twitter.com/d2qYNLexHq— (@_anamarri) February 5, 2018
“First and foremost, to clear up that yesterday I already spoke with Samuel. My intention was not racist in any way! You all know that my wife is Romani, and that I grew up in a town with people from all over the world. My brother-in-law, who is one of my best friends, is also African-American. In the heat of the match, many things are said that should stay on the pitch. Força Espanyol!”
All right, so let’s go point by point.
- Your intention may not be racist, but your words were. Those words are what is being discussed here, not your intentions.
- Having a wife that is a certain kind of person, or a friend who is black, or whatever, doesn’t absolve you at all. I can’t believe this is still being used as a defense.
- Maybe I’m being nitpicky but it’s odd that he says his brother-in-law is “also” African-American. For one, Umtiti is French. And I imagine his brother-in-law may not be American either.
- Things do not stay on the pitch, that’s just nonsense. Your actions are beamed across the world for people to see. And if you do something good you get praise for it, off the pitch. By that same token you cannot expect your bad actions to not get scrutinized.
- He included “Força Espanyol” but not, you know... any actual apology or show of remorse or promise to get better. Can this be called even a “quasi apology?” It’s more like a long set of irrelevant justifications.
García has now taken his Instagram to private, perhaps as a response to the backlash he received for this post.
Going down the route of “well, some of my best friends...” is a dead end that unfortunately is still common in football. Recently, Iago Aspas and Fabio Coentrão used the same logic to defend themselves under similar circumstances. And, one would be remiss to leave out that Luis Suárez did the same thing as well.
Improvement on this front in football is badly needed.