South Africa

Kenya: Kenyan International Leads Vissel Kobe in Condemning Racism

Kenyan international Ayub Masika and his employers Vissel Kobe have added their weight on the fight against racism.

Although Masika did not reveal to Nation Sport if he had experienced racism in Belgium, China, England and Japan where he has played professional football, his country of birth Kenya or any other country he has visited, he said society needs to do more to deal with it.

"I think it's important first of all to understand what racism is," he begun.

Masika described racism as discrimination, prejudice or antagonism by individuals, communities or even institutions based on a person's skin colour.

He said there are still a lot of people who don't know what racism means or refuse to acknowledge it exists.

"There is racism in a lot of countries, all over the world. This obviously also translates to the football pitch. There have been innumerable racist incidents in European football, for example. Personally, I think it took far too long for the leagues to take action," he noted.

As football players, Masika said, our voices are louder than other people. "So we have to step up for the people who are experiencing racism on the pitch as well as off the pitch."

Masika supports football players who protest against racial abuse. "Those who protest have every reason and right to do so," he says adding that racism has grown to the extent that telling people that some events or chants are racist, is not enough.

The 28-year-old says it's the duty of league managers to make sure that every player feels safe and secure.

"As long as racism is allowed to exist just like that, we'll have to stand firm and make our point until something changes. But it's not only the players that need to stand firm, racism goes far beyond the football fields."

On Friday, Vissel Kobe also released a statement warning social media users against making discriminatory remarks.

"VISSEL KOBE holds and operates an official account on SNS (Social Networking Service). We have received many comments on our daily posts, and we are very pleased with the players and staff. However, there are some statements that cannot be overlooked with discriminatory remarks and slander against the players and staff belonging to our club," read a statement from the club.

"Everyone has the right and freedom to speak in their own words. And, we would like to take seriously the criticisms about play. However, we have a strong determination not to admit any unrelated slander or discriminatory remarks. As part of this, VISSEL KOBE will re-establish and publish SNS guidelines, and will take a firm stance on postings that fall under prohibited items.

"In order to improve the situation where people involved in soccer and sports, including players and staff, face discriminatory remarks and slander as soon as possible, players, staff, fans, supporters, and everyone involved in the club, we will respect each other and work to foster a relationship of mutual trust. We appreciate your understanding and cooperation."

Recently, French legend Thierry Henry quit social media over racial abuse.

The 1998 World Cup winner asked "the people in power to regulate their platforms with the same vigour and ferocity that they currently do when you infringe copyright".

Meanwhile, Vissel Kobe lost 2-0 to Yokohama F. Marinos in Yokohama on Sunday.

Belgian Thomas Vermaelen scored in his own net in the 41st minute while Jun Amano sealed the win for the hosts in the 81st.

Masika was introduced for Yuya Nakasaka in the 60th minute, seconds after midfield maestro Andres Iniesta replaced Daiju Sasaki.

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