A furious Demba Ba was uncharacteristically loud as he expressed his opinion as a suspected racist comment was directed at Pierre Webo, a former Cameroon international and Istanbul Basaksehir’s assistant coach.
The game had barely started when Romanian fourth official, Sebastian Coltescu was alleged to have directed a racist comment at Webo.
Ba was seen questioning the referee as he asked why he’s regarded Webo as a black guy, despite the many descriptions he could use.
The issue, which has divided opinions is one of football’s most talked-about issues at the point.
Ba weighed in on what he thinks about it and why he ensured he asked the referee key questions which he never answered.
”When Pierre was shouting with the referee, I was just sitting in the stands and asking myself what is happening and then when I got exactly what happened, my objective was just to find out why make such a difference when we’re on a football field which is not a place to do all these differences.
”You know we all talk about respect, equality and everything and why would you make, as an official, such a difference when you could have defined that player by many other things, before being black, what is he on Basaksehir’s side, is he a player or is he a coach, don’t get me wrong, I’m not attacking that referee, I’m not making a statement, my words start by why, which is a question which I’ve never been answered, I just went and asked the question, if you would have told me the other guy I called him that five minutes ago, I’d have said okay and go back on the seat and the game continues but that didn’t happen, I didn’t have any answer, he was probably surprised of why am I being attacked and I understand he might be surprised because unfortunately there are some words that have been normalised in our mind, in our subconscious and we just say them randomly not knowing what they can trigger, forgetting the history of some of the words, not knowing the emotional impact that these words have on people.
”You don’t know what it is to be black unless you’re black, you don’t know what it is to be white unless you’re white, you don’t know. With the history and what we have lived in our life growing up you don’t know how that may affect us, the meaning the word comes with, ” he said.
On divided opinions, Ba said;
”You know we all have to accept the one and the others opinions, we grow up differently, we grow up in different cultures, even being black some grow up in Europe, some grow up in Africa, some whites grow up in Africa, some whites grow up in Europe so we’re all gonna have a difference in opinions based on this and our history.
”This is when I say we have to accept, once again the problem is not the fact that he called the coach a black man, I’m black and I know it, if I talk about me being black is not gonna be racist but the context in what you’re referring to is the first and second would you do the same with people from different colours, would you do the same with the white one, or would you do the same with the Asian ones, would you do the same, if you do the same…
Ba said he agrees with describing a man in his colour but in football, the context is different.
”Yeah, but in the context of football with everything that’s happening today in 2020 with all this movement of black lives matter and stuffs like this, you have to pay attention if you’re an official on how you refer to a player, they do their homework, they know who is who, trust me I have been refereed by some refs this year and last year in Europe that I’ve never faced anytime in my life and they all call me by my first name Demba (they know who you are, you’re Demba Ba) they know who I am, they should do their homework also on the staff members, on the players that have less views or have had less views in their career because once you arrive you start to interact with these people, you have to know who they are, you come from different country and you come to ref two teams full of nationalities, we have to bring those circumstances back, we’re on a football field, players were heated you know it was an important game, Paris needs to win to be sure to stay in the Champions League and we come just to fight because we’re competitors we want to win this league, once again the context, we go back to the context, we have gotten 3 yellow cards in 10 minutes, I’ve never seen that in football, three yellow cards Mahmoud, Rafael and the coach, in 10 minutes, I’ve never seen this anywhere, already you start to trigger something if you give me three yellow cards in 10 minutes for my team I’d start to think this guy is just here to, you know what I mean and then in this context you have to pay attention to what you say and once again is he racist, I don’t know, I believe probably not. Can a racist comment come out of somebody not racist,
On what and how they felt after the incident, he said; ”We were discussing basically going out or staying. Basically that was the thing, as simple as this. Going out or staying in. Some people, I don’t wanna say they want to go out but it’s fine if they go back out, some others absolutely not. I was one of those who didn’t wanna go out but I looked at my teammates and I said to my teammates, you guys don’t know what we’ve lived through growing up unless you’re black or you might have lived it but in a different way, I’m not gonna go back out because at some point we have to stop.
”It’s not the worst thing that have happened on the football field but at some point we have to say stop whether it’s the biggest insult or the lowest insult we have to say stop because we live in a world that racism have become normal, can you imagine, it has become normal to say somebody black like this, so I said to the guys, listen, in terms of values we might be different but I respect your values and I’m tolerant towards your values. If this is not something that you feel is not something you wanna fight through it, it’s absolutely fine, you go out and you play your game and I’d support you because on my end I accept that we have differences and I’m tolerant to what you guys believe ultimately, so if you guys wants to go out 100% you go you fight, I’ll just go get showered and go in the stands and watch you play and that was the thing that was happening in the dressing room, afterwards we had some discussions some say I’ll go out and some say I won’t, and some others say it’s everybody or nobody and we ended up staying. Hats up to players of Basaksehir because they felt also that because they felt something had to be made, hats off to players of PSG because they could have stayed on the field and say we’re here to play and they’re not, they either come out to play or we win this game but they decided to just stop.
”Some of the elements or let me say one of the elements of Paris I wish being in front of camera and explain how he treated us because I don’t accept this and I’ll never accept this, the next time I see him he will hear about it but hats off to these people. (Who were you referring to?) Their manager, (do you wanna go into that now?) no, I’m not going into that but he would probably go into that, he had discussions with one or two players of our team and basically blaming us for what happened, so that’s his problem, that’s not mine, this is not something I have to share on camera but if I have to see him one day I’ll show him.
On how they made history, Ba said it’s an opportunity to ground many racist stereotypes in football.
”But this moment would happen, it came on us but it would have happened eventually any time because things have been normalised. Can you imagine in Italy after Romelu Lukaku, some people were doing noises of monkeys, his own fans from Inter Milan sent letters saying it’s normal we just do this to destabilize the player, in what world that we live in do you say it’s normal, it’s alright. We did this just so the player is destabilized, so at some point it would have come.
Football Needs More Like My Mum and Dad
”I’d say the game needs more like my mom and my dad because they taught me to always accept the truth even if it comes from your enemy and always reject the lie even if it comes from your best friend. I grew up with those values. One thing I’ll keep doing for sure is fighting for everybody’s right behind the scenes because I don’t want to be seen, I don’t need people to see me to change things. I have this will of impact, I want to make sure that the generations to come don’t have to live this.
We need Change. Change a lot of things (where do we start?) Where do we start? We probably have to sit down all together and make some plans and then follow the plans. It’s all good to have some billboards and banners and put some badges here [on the shirt]”
Education, Not Banners Is Needed – Ba
”It’s useless, from my point of view, again I speak only for myself and I’m responsible only for myself but from my point of view it’s useless. What we have to do is change education, if you have good education, you’d become somebody of value. I’m not blaming no parents because I believe everybody does the best based on what he knows and we all know differently, some knows more, some knows less but we all do the best but some entities like UEFA for example they have also big responsibilities and I believe they take the responsibilities, they have to educate, this is where it starts, when you start educating people things are different. Education, travel, this is what you have to do to bring awareness to people to know about all this because the minute you know about this, racism is just a problem of differences. Some people can be racist against blacks but they all love Michael Jordan, somehow they probably feel that they know him through his career so they don’t hate him anymore, maybe if they would interact with other blacks, it would be different, so I believe education has a big part in it.
On if he will ever walk off the pitch again, Ba said;
”Yes, I would walk off again for one reason because I think I was at that moment aligning with my thoughts and my values and that’s why I said to the players if you guys are not aligning between what you think and what you feel and what your values are then go out it makes no sense for you to stay here, (but they all stayed with you.) They all stayed and I’m proud of them.”