French football chief Noel Le Graet has made the extraordinary claim that racism ‘barely exists’ in sport.
Marseille coach Andre Villas-Boas said: ‘We are sure that Alvaro is not racist.’
French FA president Noel Le Graet believes that racism barely exists in sport nowadays
The claim was made after Neymar (left) accused Alvaro Gonzalez (right) of racism towards him
Yet Le Graet, who has been president of the French FA since 2011, risked ridiculed by saying in an interview with French news channel BFM TV: ‘When a black player scores a goal, the whole stadium is on its feet.
‘This phenomenon of racism in sport, and in football in particular, does not exist at all or barely exists.’
Neymar was one of five players sent off during a violent ending to the Ligue 1 match, which Marseille won 1-0.
The Brazilian was dismissed for striking Gonzalez in the back of the head and while he accepted his reaction should have been better, he concluded a lengthy social media post by writing: ‘You know what you said… I know what I did.’
In a social media postm Neymar told Gonzalez: ‘You know what you said. I know what I did.’
Le Graet has been in his role since 2011 and claims black players are applauded during games
In a statement released by Marseille this week, the club strongly denied that Gonzalez was guilty of racism.
‘Alvaro Gonzalez is not racist, as he has shown through his daily behaviour since joining the club, and as his team-mates have already confirmed.’
PSG offered similar backing to Neymar. Their statement read: ‘Paris Saint-Germain strongly supports Neymar Jr. who reported being subjected to racist abuse by an opposing player. The club restates that there is no place for racism in society.’