Wed, Aug


“SOCA WARRIORS” midfielder Lester Peltier recently revealed that his time in Slovakia has not only been challenging on the field, but also off it.

Peltier who plays for AS Trencin in the Corgon Liga on Tuesday announced on the social networking site Twitter that he has been the subject of racist abuse.

“I can’t take the racist abuse” Peltier tweeted on Tuesday. What is astounding about Peltier’s situation is that the racist abuse did not come from opposing players or fans. In an exclusive interview with Newsday, the midfielder said that he has been racially abused by people in the town he resides.

The former Ma Pau player revealed that he has been threatened, called the ‘N’ word and been taunted to leave Slovakia. He explained that there is no racism at the stadiums or cities but in towns outside the city, like the one in which he resides, racism is rampant.

Recently football has been plagued by several high-profile racism incidents. Last December, Liverpool striker Luis Suarez was banned for eight matches and fined £40,000 after being found guilty by the English Football Association of racially abusing Manchester United defender Patrice Evra. Subsequently a Liverpool fan was arrested after directing racist taunts towards Evra at a recent FA Cup match. England’s captain, John Terry will stand trial in July after allegedly racially abusing Queen’s Park Rangers defender Anton Ferdinand in a Premier League match while there have been countless other incidents which have taken place in Europe.

FIFA in 2006, launched their “Say no to racism” campaign to combat the scourge at matches by fans and players. However, Peltier’s case shows that more must be done to eradicate racism and it highlights the limitation of FIFA’s campaign.

Stopping racism at football venues is a success, but how can the measures transcend to the towns and communities? While footballers are happy to play in an environment free of racism, they would also like to live and raise their families under the same conditions. Peltier should not have to live in fear and worry about the safety of his family due to threats from cowardly individuals.

Hopefully the Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation will get in contact with AS Trencin and ensure that a proper support structure is in place for Peltier. It would be sad if he is forced to return to Trinidad and play in the Pro League because of racism.

Playing in Slovakia will only enhance his credentials and help him become a better player. Overcoming the racist abuse ensures he matures as a footballer, he will be mentally stronger and capable of dealing with challenging periods in his career and in life.

The easy option for Peltier is to run away from the problem and ply his trade in a much friendlier environment, and who would blame him?

When I attended the University of the West Indies, one of my lecturers told me that racism is an ugly reality everybody will face at some point in their life, but it is how you respond and deal with it that is of true value.

Obviously the “Soca Warriors” midfielder is affected by the problem and he must find a proactive measure to ensure his performances are not affected.

Maybe he and his club can work together with various government officials to formulate a campaign which goes beyond the field and reaches into the community to combat racism.

Peltier may not be able to end racism in Slovakia but he may be successful in bringing change and ensuring that future black players are not subjected to similar abuse in the future.