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James Willamor
Citizenship

Sweden's World Cup Team Has the Perfect Response to Racism

During a World Cup match on Saturday, Swedish midfielder Jimmy Durmaz fouled the German forward Toni Kroos, who then scored the game-winning goal on a penalty kick, according to Yahoo.

It was a demoralizing moment for Durmaz, who has played at the highest levels of soccer for years. But the Swede wasn’t prepared for the scale of hatred that awaited him when he left the stadium.

Thousands of hateful messages targeted his social media accounts — and most of them were racist in nature.

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Durmaz is of Turkish descent, and bigots focused on his ethnic background in death threats and other abusive comments, according to the Federation of International Football Association (FIFA).

But Durmaz didn’t back down or respond to hate with anger. He recruited his teammates to deliver a resounding message against racism, according to the Intercept.

“I am a footballer at the highest level,” he said in a video message. “Being criticized is something we live with, but being called ‘fucking immigrant’ and ‘suicide bomber’ and having death threats made against me and my children is completely unacceptable.

Read More: 6 Things You Shouldn't Forget as Russia Hosts the 2018 World Cup

“I am Swedish, and with pride I wear our shirt and our flag,” Durmaz added. “It warms us all. We stand united, we are Sweden.”

The rest of the Swedish national team then joined him in saying “fuck racism,” a message that’s going viral.

His teammates and sports commentators also challenged the racism in separate comments.

“No shadow falls over Jimmy, there is nothing bad to say about him. People can’t blame one person. You win as a team and you lose as a team,” said Sweden’s midfielder Albin Ekdal.

“Crazy people openly raging with racism against Jimmy Durmaz after a football match, unfortunately, says too much about the world we live in,” tweeted Swedish sports journalist Patrick Ekwall.

Racism is a chronic issue in soccer around the world. Bigoted fans often hurl racist remarks at players of color and lead disparaging chants that have caused players to leave the game or break down in tears.

By presenting a united front against racism, Durmaz and his teammates are showing that it should never be tolerated in the stands, on social media, or anywhere at all.

Winners🥇🇸🇪#jd21 #beard

A post shared by Novalii❤️gabriel❤️gabriella (@jimmydurmaz) on

Global Citizen campaigns to end discrimination around the world and you can take action on this issue here.