Sweden’s World Cup squad united to record a blunt message of support for a player with immigrant roots who was threatened and racially abused online.
In response to a wave of hatred from Swedish nationalists aimed at a soccer player from an immigrant background who made an error on Saturday, Sweden’s World Cup squad united to record a video message of support, in which they said in unison: “Fuck racism!”
The video was posted online by the Swedish Football Association and on Instagram by the player Jimmy Durmaz, who was born in Sweden to a Syriac Christian family with roots in Turkey. Racist insults were hurled at Durmaz after his foul in the closing seconds of Sweden’s match against Germany gave the Germans a free kick they converted into the winning goal.
“I am a footballer at the highest level; being criticized is something we live with, but being called ‘fucking immigrant’ and ‘suicide bomber’ and having death threats made against me and my children is completely unacceptable,” Durmaz said in remarks before the blunt statement from his teammates.
“I am Swedish, and with pride I wear our shirt and our flag,” Durmaz added, before thanking fans who were supportive. “It warms us all. We stand united, we are Sweden,” he concluded, before turning to his teammates for the clear rebuke of racist fans.
“I’m humbled and overwhelmed from all the lovely messages I’ve received from all of you, it really warms my heart after what happened last night,” the player wrote on Instagram. “Keep posting love so it will overcome all the hate out there. #fuckracism”
Correction: June 25, 12:35 p.m. EDT
An earlier version of this column reported incorrectly that the family of Swedish midfielder Jimmy Durmaz has Syrian roots. It has been updated to reflect the fact that his father is a Syriac Christian who emigrated from Turkey.