19 May 2021
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Former Wimbledon star, John Fashanu, says his family couldn’t watch him play all through a glittering career that saw him win the English FA Cup and spend several seasons in the Premier League with the Dons, Millwall, Aston Villa, Norwich City and Crystal Palace, as well as the English national team due to racism.
The former striker stated this while reacting to the recent racial abuse aimed at Super Eagles defender, Semi Ajayi, by West Bromwich Albion fans following the club’s 2-1 defeat by Liverpool on Sunday.
Ajayi became the latest Premier League player to be racially abused online and the Nigerian shared screenshots of the abuses on social media.
Fashanu, who was racially abused on several occasions during his playing days, decried the ugly situation.
“I can never be in support of racial abuse because it is ridiculous. It is very sad that at this time in our lives, with so many things happening, people are still being abused,” Fashanu told The PUNCH.
“This is very unfortunate and not good for football. There will be a time when the black players will walk off the pitch. The biggest and the most entertaining players in the world whether anybody likes it or not are black players.
“So many people are shying away from football because they are being abused. Being abused is not part of the job. We can forgive the people who did this 20 years ago when I was playing football. My late brother Justin, the first black £1m footballer, instead of people cheering him when he went onto the pitch he was booed and called all sorts of names.”
On his personal experiences in the hands of racists, Fashanu added, “When I joined Millwall in London, I needed seven police officers to get me on the bus because of the racial abuse and all sorts of rubbishes thrown at me. I had no choice but just to bend my head and hide like a fugitive trying to get into a country. We thought all these things would have been over, and that our brothers would have a better life.
“These boys must be tired because it is not a sin to be black and I wonder why there still have to be racial abuses. In the 25 years of my career and playing football in the Premier League, I never had my family watch me play, my wife never watched me play because the racial abuse that I got was much that they would cry.”