Barcelona star Alejandro Balde – ‘I haven’t dealt with racism in football, but I have had it in the street’

Barcelona star Alejandro Balde has made his name in the space of just a season at Camp Nou, beating out Jordi Alba for the left-back spot and allowing Xavi Hernandez to build a system without a natural left winger due to his impressive play. And while a recent interview with GQ should have focused chiefly on that, the topic all week in Spain has been racism, following abuse suffered by Vinicius Junior last weekend.

There has been something of a change of tune at least from the authorities, who did punish Valencia for the incidents. La Liga President Javier Tebas has apologised to Vinicius for his comments after the game, asked for more powers for La Liga to punish racism, and confirmed he would support players walking off in the face of further abuse.

Balde believes that after the very first insult, games should be stopped. Diario AS covered his comments.

“After the first racist insult, the game should be stopped and the game should not be played again. That would make people stop doing it. In football, there you can do something significant.”

Speaking to his own experience, Balde thankfully has been saved from experiencing that sort of abuse on the pitch. Yet off it, he has had to deal with the violence.

“In the world of football I have not had any problems with racism, but I have had it on the street. Both my family and me. When I was little I remember wanting to play a game in a park and the kids telling me and my brother that their families wouldn’t let them play with blacks. My parents have had trouble getting jobs because of the colour of their skin. They have stopped my brother and have asked him for his documentation without any reason. They tell you, ‘What are you doing here?’ just because of your skin colour.”

Balde also explained that he had sent a message of support to Spain teammate Nico Williams, after he was racially abused for missing two clear chances for Athletic Club.

“I wrote to him, I told him not to pay attention, that those who insulted him were people who have no life who hide behind the screens, who have no respect. I asked him to try to forget it.”

At the very least, racism has become a topic of discussion in Spain all week, and hopefully it is the first step along the way to progress in the issue. While these young players should not have to be dealing with any of this, the likes of Vinicius, Balde and previously Inaki Williams will no doubt help towards changing the discourse.

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