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Recent Villarreal departure in racism row with Neymar and PSG (Video links)

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Alvaro Gonzalez caught up in a firestorm of controversy in Le Classique

Paris Saint-Germain v Olympique Marseille - Ligue 1 Photo by Mehdi Taamallah/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Gonna be honest folks, Alvaro Gonzalez leaving Villarreal didn’t make much of an impact on me. He had a couple solid seasons here at Villarreal but after a loan he had been a bit out of sight out of mind. He recently permanently joined Marseille for about 4m.

In Le Classique, one of the biggest rivalry matches in France, he found his side facing PSG and in particular, Neymar. The 1-0 win for Marseille was marred by five red cards well into stoppage time. One of those reds went to Neymar for striking Alvaro Gonzales, and Neymar later claimed it was because of racist comments from the defender:

To my knowledge, this is the first time in Alvaro’s career anyone has accused him of racism and so far Téléfoot Chaine, who covered the game, ‘deny having any evidence’ of the alleged racist behavior.

Briefly scrolling through social media on the subject (which is always a loathsome activity) the reaction is predictably polarized. Some folks seem to believe Neymar without reservation, others point to his history of diving on the pitch and faking injury when things don’t go his way and suggest this is a further example of the same sort of attitude.

The Wikipedia editors wasted no time with this one:

wikepedia.com

PSG boss Thomas Tuchel seemed to hedge on the topic after the match, pointing out that neither he nor the referee heard it themselves, so he was not the person to ask. Here is a clip of Neymar initially reacting to the incident (before the brawl). I don’t speak any of the languages involved so I have no idea what they are saying:

Here is the brawl itself:

Racism is not only morally abhorrent, it’s rooted in ignorance. There is of course no place for it in the game of football nor in a moral society. I don’t know who is telling the truth here, Neymar or Alvaro. I know Alvaro’s track record, and I know that Neymar definitely seems to at least think he heard something. I leave it to y’all to make up your own minds.

(Just a moderation warning here, I’ll be watching this comment thread closely, no slinging accusations at each other on this one.)