• France international says players should ‘take a stance’ • He was also targeted in Barcelona game by racist objects
Lilian Thuram, the France international who played in the 2003 World Cup final victory over England, has called on the players in France’s national team to take a more active role in stopping racist abuse from the stands during matches.
Thuram, who won 81 caps for France, said: “I have a clear idea, though perhaps this could be done via fans, in line with other sports federations in the world where the match officials often monitor [leaving] the stadium and neutralise whatever is intended in the stadium for the ball. That’s been done in France on several occasions but the players have been suffering.
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“The decision of the players to take a stance in the [spaces] where they live is very important. There must be some sort of agreement between the players and France. But there is no agreement. And, in any case, players simply think of it as their personal problem and don’t take a stance.”
Thuram was also targeted in a game against Barcelona in January, when he reacted with disgust when objects fell from the crowd. The 38-year-old added: “I tried to warn the players, especially when I was targeted by falling objects. But it is difficult to raise your voice. How can players silence the crowd, who shout out insults such as ‘free monsieur’ or ‘you fat ape’? The only way is to take a stance. They don’t act against insults because it is their own country. But then if it is France that spits in their faces, they just won’t do it.”