Swedish Footballer Receives Death Threats, Racist Slurs Over Loss to Germany

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© AFP 2018 / Jonathan NACKSTRAND
“Arab devil” and “terrorist” are only some of the insults Jimmy Durmaz of the Sweden national team had to endure, as many supporters blamed the midfielder, who has Syrian roots, for Sweden’s bitter defeat to Germany during the FIFA 2018 World Cup in Russia.

The Swedish Football Association intends to inform the police about the racist slurs and death threats directed against player Jimmy Durmaz, a Swedish national broadcaster reported. According to the Swedish Football Association’s secretary-general, Håkan Sjöstrand, the association will stand as both plaintiff and accuser for Durmaz so that he is able to focus on playing football.

During Saturday’s match against Germany, a tackle by Durmaz led to a last-minute free kick that tipped the match, which was heading to an unexpected draw, to the Bundesteam’s advantage. After the match, Durmaz’s Instagram account was filled with hateful comments, including threats. Among other things, Durmaz was called an “Arab devil,” “suicide bomber,” “Taliban” and “terrorist” and was urged to “go home.”

?”I have always experienced hate, they keep hating me. If you’ve had it for your whole life, it’s no danger anymore. This is nothing I care about, I stand proud and represent my country,” Durmaz himself told the Swedish newspaper Expressen.

Furthermore, Durmaz, who was born in Sweden into a Syriac Orthodox family, stressed that he was Swedish and proud to wear the national team shirt and sport the Swedish flag. He emphasized that as a professional footballer, he is prepared to take the blame for his performance on the pitch, but found the racist slurs fully unacceptable.

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Following the incident, many Swedish politicians and celebrities rushed to voice their support for Durmaz.

Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven called the attacks “pitiful,” venturing that the haters “haven’t understood anything.” “In Sweden, we win together and we lose together,” he told Expressen.

Support for Durmaz was also voiced by Christian Democrats leader Ebba Thor-Busch and Greens leader Gustav Fridolin, whereas Conservative leader Ulf Kristersson argued that the haters “acted like swine,” which made him “both sad and furious.”

Durmaz also received the support of Swedish mixed martial arts star Reza Madadi, comedian and TV personality Özz Nûjen and rap and reggae artist Timbuktu.

?The entire team Sweden expressed its support for Jimmy Durmaz. During a training session on Sunday, the whole team rallied in support of Durmaz chanting “F**k racism,” a phrase used by the player himself earlier in the day.

?Jimmy Durmaz (29) plays as a winger for French club Toulouse and Sweden’s national team.