Football authorities can never thank enough Sebastian Coltescu, fourth referee in the Champions League match between PSG and Turkish club Basaksehir in Istanbul. In a few seconds, he was a formidable detonator, a particle accelerator, in favor of the fight against racism in all areas of the world. On its own, it has done better than all the advertising campaigns launched by international organizations such as UEFA or FIFA. Thank you, Mister Coltescu, the man who shoots faster than his shadow, the man who spoke two words that opened a floodgate of planetary indignation.
What little sentence has this Romanian citizen let go of to deserve the gold medal for hidden racism? When the head referee, also a Romanian citizen, following a game incident, asks him to appoint a member of the Turkish team’s staff, too turbulent for his liking, Colstecu points out to him the culprit: “Ala negru ! “, Which could literally be translated as” The black, there! “. The following ? The sequence goes viral at the speed of light. Anger of the players of both camps who stop the match and urge the head referee to get rid of this racist colleague without a long delay.
A semantic debate follows on the meaning of the word “negru” in Romanian. And an incredible blindness of the hierarchs of UEFA, the European Union of Football Associations for the uninitiated, organizer of the matches of the Champions League. Should the applicant be exfiltrated as quickly as possible? Should we urge him to apologize at the second, to the players, for this “verbal slippage” which almost deserves the intervention of linguists specializing in the Transylvanian idiom? But the pundits of the round ball drag their feet, palaver, scratch their scalp, convinced that these kids full of aces will come to their senses and get back to doing what they are paid for: kicking a ball. They will inevitably fall into line, because of the cash drawer.
Big mistake. The “kids” improvise a sit-down strike, stick together, forgetting the sporting issues, the rankings, the pile of gold that awaits them if they win the European Cup. They provoke a small revolution, an incredible historical moment, which spreads to the four corners of the world, from Vladivostok to Valparaiso. A match stopped by the “footballers” themselves, often judged as egocentric and carefree, locked in the golden prison of king money. Tremendous paradox: the Parisian and Istanbul players only apply the instructions of the same UEFA, which has recently multiplied “No to racism” TV campaigns, with the participation of stars such as M’Bappé, Ronaldo, Messi, Benzema, etc.
The Gold Medal for Ordinary Racism
This unprecedented rebellion is a cruel lesson for the notables of international football for whom the “incident” of the Parc des Princes, the scene of this sporting happening that has become political, a cousin of the “Black lives matter” unleashed after the tragedy of the Floyd affair in the USA, should have been only an “incident”, a verbal slippage without consequence. It is a sign that the tensions which cross our societies also irrigate the lawns on which the virtuosos of the round ball dance. Our good Coltescu is a racist “without knowing it of his own accord”? A racist who ignores himself? A second-degree racist, who says “black” to designate a man instead of “this man”? Without a doubt. Should he have slipped away from the start of the sling and thus escaped international fame? No doubt, too. But by deliberately staying on the sidelines, with the backing of UEFA’s big “overcoats”, he has sparked a historic sling, stronger than any anti-racism campaign. Thanks, Mister Coltescu. History will remember your contribution. You will surely be the object of a suspension by the football authorities and no longer show up on the field for a while, to make you forget. But fear not, no one will forget you. You won the gold medal for ordinary racism.