European Soccer Combats Racial Abuse

ByABC News
June 11, 2006, 5:25 PM

June 11, 2006 — -- Carlos Kameni, from Cameroon in West Africa, plays in goal for the Spanish club team Espanyol, one of the strongest teams in perhaps the strongest league in the world.

He is often subjected to racial epithets.

"Hey Kameni," one heckler with a bullhorn yelled at him from the stands. "Get out of here. Go to the press and tell them that this is racism. You son of a bitch. Whether you are black or orange, you are garbage."

Even fans in his own stadium shower him with racist slurs and bananas.

"When they throw bananas on the field, I think, 'I'm not a monkey, I'm a human being,' " he said.

Marc Zoro was 18-years-old when he left his native Ivory Coast -- the nation he is representing at this World Cup -- to play soccer in Italy. For three years, he's played defense for the Sicilian team Messina. In nearly every game, fans have taunted him.

During a game against Inter Milan last fall, Zoro had enough. He picked up the ball and threatened to walk off the field.

Two players from the opposing team rushed to Zoro's side, imploring him to stay on the field -- and the fans to stop.

When Zoro next played Inter Milan, some fans held up a banner that read: "Peanuts and bananas are the pay for your infamy."

French striker Thierry Henry is one of the most acclaimed players on the planet, but being an elite player hasn't spared him from racist slurs.

"It is not the right answer to lose it," said Henry. "But sometimes people should understand why. It is painful, but I can tell you so many times [there were] monkey chants and people spitting at me when I was taking a throw in or a corner kick, whatever you can imagine."