Tuesday June 11 2019
Pogba: How I dealt with racism

Former Juventus star Paul Pogba has revealed how he gave a racist Fiorentina fan his shirt after they racially abused him.

Racism has become a talking point in Italian football again following incidents involving Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly and Juve striker Moise Kean last season.

“I’ve experienced it and it’s really sad to see that on the football pitch,” Pogba told The Times.

“The fans that do that, they have even black people in their team, so to do something like that is really low.

“They don’t respect the player, and they don’t even respect the player in their own team.

“I don’t know if they’re racist or ignorant or they just don’t want you to perform well. I hear a lot of things but I don’t react, I just smile.

“I have a story: once we had a game against Fiorentina and I just came out of the bench and some people were doing the monkey sound, and I said why?

“So I just gave him my shirt and they were really happy, and then at the end they applauded me.

“My reaction? I just pray for them and make people understand we just enjoy sport and enjoy playing football.

“I understand they want their team to win, but there are different ways to attract attention. To do something like that, and in 2019, is really low.

“The world is beautiful with a lot of colours and a lot of cultures. When I speak about racism, I think it’s ignorance. And you can’t really change something because it’s been there for a long time.

“You try to speak about it, but it just carries on. I don’t think you can change that in people.

“I’m sad about it, I’m not angry. I’m happy with myself. I have a Chinese friend, an Italian agent, a Brazilian lawyer, a Bolivian wife, I’m French and Guinean. All my life it’s a different culture.

“I’m just happy with myself, I enjoy playing football, I enjoy giving a smile to people. That’s it, that’s all I need in life. Don’t think about people who hate, because they just want to pull you back.”

The Manchester United midfielder was then asked whether he would walk off if he was targeted again.

“When I see the reaction of others, I just think about it and think, would I do that or not? When they do it again, what are you going to say? Are you going to leave the pitch? No!

“If you want to play, you play. Try to score for your team, try to win. At the end they will come after the game and ask for a picture.”