Scottish Daily Mail

I’d love to sit down with those who shouted at me TIME TO TAKE A STAND

I was racially abused in Scot­tish foot­ball. It stays with you and we need to call it out

- by Stephen McGowan Chief Foot­ball Writer SAYS CHRIS­TIAN NADE

CHRIS­TIAN NADE has a story to tell about racism in foot­ball. A tale which chal­lenges the com­pla­cent as­sump­tion that Scot­tish fans have al­ways been more con­cerned with the school a man went to than the colour of his skin.

A wiz­ened vet­eran of the SPFL scene with Hearts, Raith Rovers, Dundee and Dum­bar­ton, Nade can re­late to the treat­ment of Chris­tian Mbulu, Scott Sin­clair and Den­non Lewis in re­cent weeks.

The Mother­well sub­sti­tute was sub­jected to vile taunts by a sec­tion of the Hearts sup­port on Satur­day, Po­lice Scot­land mak­ing two ar­rests as Tynecas­tle owner Ann Budge is­sued life­time bans.

Footage also emerged last week of an Aberdeen sup­porter di­rect­ing racist abuse at Celtic winger Sin­clair dur­ing the Bet­fred Cup fi­nal.

Falkirk’s Lewis, mean­while, was ‘dev­as­tated’ by racist abuse from his own fans dur­ing a re­cent Scot­tish Cup game.

Now 34 and play­ing for Troon Ju­niors, Nade ab­sorbed im­ages of Ra­heem Ster­ling be­ing abused by mid­dle-aged Chelsea sup­port­ers on Satur­day. A vic­tim of ra­cial abuse as a player in Cyprus and Thai­land, racism, he points out, is not unique to the Scot­tish league.

Asked if he was a tar­get for the slings and ar­rows of the brain­dead, how­ever, he tells Sports­mail: ‘I would be ly­ing if I said no.

‘I tried not to pay too much at­ten­tion. I tried not to be both­ered by it. I don’t want to give th­ese peo­ple a plat­form or to let them get in­side my head or do any­thing stupid.

‘It hap­pened when I was play­ing for Raith Rovers away. It also hap­pened once when I was at Hearts.

‘The first time I heard it was away at Hibs. It was a young boy close to the pitch when we were warm­ing up.

‘It was the usual: “You are a black so and so. You are lazy, go back to your own coun­try!”. Un­be­liev­able.

‘It can hap­pen in the blink of an eye and you can’t be­lieve what you heard. There is si­lence and then…

‘The first time I heard it, I felt shock. I had never heard it be­fore in Scot­land and it re­ally af­fected me. I had to go and play and it was dif­fi­cult. The racism I have faced has been wild some­times and I try to blot it out.

‘But you know what? Th­ese kind of things mark you and they stay in your head.’

When fans of Rangers or Celtic can live with chants about be­ing up to their knees in ‘fe­nian blood’ or ren­der op­po­si­tion man­agers an ‘orange b ****** ’, it should come as no real sur­prise that some see the colour of a man’s skin as an im­ped­i­ment to ac­cep­tance.

Nade ap­plauds his for­mer club for tak­ing a strong stand on the is­sue. Ad­dress­ing the creep­ing right-wing ex­trem­ist ele­ment of the Hearts sup­port, how­ever, the for­mer Tynecas­tle striker be­lieves the onus is on de­cent sup­port­ers to iden­tify the cul­prits and have them ejected. ‘Tak­ing them to court won’t solve any­thing,’ he ar­gued. ‘All it will do is pro­voke more rage in the hearts of th­ese peo­ple. ‘They have to be banned from foot­ball. And the peo­ple next to him need to point fin­gers. ‘Sup­port­ers need to say: “You can’t do that here”. It’s not only white against black. White peo­ple are sub­jected to racism as well, maybe be­cause the re­li­gion they be­lieve in is in­sulted. ‘Racism has dif­fer­ent as­pects. But it can only be dealt with in a foot­ball sta­dium if some­one starts shout­ing racist stuff and the guy next to him is not happy with it and starts point­ing the finger at the racist.

‘That’s when we will start mov­ing for­ward.

‘There is noth­ing to be ashamed of de­nounc­ing this kind of thing. It has no place in foot­ball and peo­ple should not be em­bar­rassed about tak­ing a stand.’

Plagued by men­tal de­mons after a court case and sui­cide bid ear­lier this year, Nade ad­mits the racism left a mark on his psy­che.

Even now, he wishes he could turn the clock back and sit down with the id­iots who yelled racist abuse to talk about why they be­haved as they did.

‘No one can know how it feels un­less it has hap­pened to them,’ said Nade. ‘I was al­ways too young to make a stand on it. And I don’t want to play the vic­tim. I am not a vic­tim and never have been.

‘It’s dan­ger­ous ground and I don’t want to get too deep, but now if there is abuse and I can con­front the per­son who says it, I will.

‘I would love to sit down with the guys who shouted racist abuse at me and say: “What are you do­ing?”. I don’t mean vi­o­lence or any­thing. I just want to know: “Where are you com­ing from? Why do you think like that?”.

‘It’s dif­fi­cult to un­der­stand. Usu­ally th­ese peo­ple are clue­less. They don’t even know where the racism comes from.

‘But I would love to say to them: “Why do you do this to me when I have done noth­ing to you?”.’

His own in­stances of abuse came in dif­fer­ent forms. For­mer Hearts boss Cs­aba Las­zlo com­pared him to a ‘fat stu­dent’. Shown com­ments on a Dundee mes­sage­board, he al­most drove his car off the road when he read Dens Park fans ac­cus­ing him of be­ing too slow and too fat.

Em­ploy­ing a per­sonal trainer, he ac­quired a six pack and em­braced re­li­gion. The one thing he couldn’t change was the colour of his skin.

De­spite the abuse, a bout of de­pres­sion and dam­ag­ing charges of do­mes­tic abuse ear­lier this year — he was cleared on all six — the French­man is still here. Un­de­terred and de­ter­mined to tell the tale.

‘You want to come and play here be­cause it is the best place,’ he told Sports­mail. ‘There is great pas­sion here. And racism hap­pened to me every­where.

‘I played in Cyprus and in Thai­land. In Thai­land, I spoke once to peo­ple say­ing bad racist stuff.

‘They would say to me: “When you go to Africa, you see flies in peo­ple’s eyes. It’s dis­gust­ing”. That was their view of Africa. I would say: “What are you talk­ing about?”.

‘What I would say to kids play­ing foot­ball is that when you are a for­eigner you need to be ten times bet­ter than the peo­ple from that coun­try. If you are only half bet­ter than him, they won’t take to you. You will be picked on by sup­port­ers. You be­come an easy tar­get.

‘Racists are more clever now. They are on so­cial me­dia. They can hide in a crowd. There is not much you can do ex­cept change the way peo­ple think.’

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