I'm from Trinidad & Tobago. I've played football around the world and I've had my fair share of experiences with racism. It was particularly bad in Eastern Europe. But I've been lucky that I haven't experienced anything close to that in Indonesia and India, where I've played most recently. Perhaps it's the fact that our skin tones are not so different compared to how it is in Europe. At the same time I am conscious that it might be easier for me compared to others, I can almost pass off as an Indian in many places. Some of the players from Africa don't have that and unfortunately they face the spotlight much more.
In India, like in Trinidad, we see fair-skinned as better. You see that with the Indian actors getting their skin bleached and promoting lighter skin. It's a lot harder to be overtly racist with me. I'm 6' 5". That probably doesn't encourage a lot of people to say things. At the same time, I don't really notice a lot of racism. I'm also someone who doesn't tolerate any injustice so I will speak out about it. It could be that it doesn't exist or it could be that it's so normal that I don't notice it. I've come to realise a lot of racism is very subtle and sinister.
When foreign players come to India, there's always a feeling that you have to justify your place in the side. It's a lot more if you are of African descent. You have to work twice as hard. You know that there are some stereotypes that come so you have to work extra hard to change it. I know that players of African descent have to go extra steps in being professional. The perception is that we are lazy and create trouble. I always have to make sure that no one can say that about me. It's not just me, all the Trinidad players before me made sure to do that.
There's also a perception that we can only play a certain way. We are seen as the guys who can push down a wall if we need to. Physically very strong but not someone who can use intelligence on the field. That's the belief across the world. Players of African descent are seen as extremely strong but lacking brains. But that's not true at all.
A lot of people are surprised to realise that I'm a very articulate and intelligent person. But I've studied a lot and only began my football career after completing my graduation. A lot of people speak to me and when they find out I'm a footballer, they ask me 'what is it you really do?' There is this perception in their head about footballers and especially those of African descent.
SOURCE: ESPN India