Rüdiger details racist incident from 2017 involving Lazio supporters

Former Roma and current Chelsea defender Antonio Rüdiger recounted the racist abuse he received from Lazio supporters during the Derby della Capitale in 2017.

The German international penned a lengthy account of the incident today in The Players’ Tribune, where he also discussed his lifelong fight against racism.

“They were shouting, ‘F*** you, go eat a banana.’ Every time I touched the ball, they would make monkey noises. It was not just a few people. It was a big section of the Lazio fans during the 2017 Derby della Capitale,” wrote Rüdiger.

“This was not the first racist abuse that I had experienced, but it was the worst. It was real hatred. You know it when you see it in their eyes.”

“In the moment, I did not react. I did not walk off the pitch. I did not want to give them that kind of power. But inside, I don’t care how strong you are, if you are a human being with a beating heart, you are marked by it forever.”

He continued, “You know, I think very often about Daniele De Rossi. He came to me after the Lazio match and he said something that I don’t think I had ever heard before.”

“I was still very emotional, very angry. De Rossi sat down next to me and said, ‘Toni, I know I will never feel the same as you. But let me understand your pain. What is going on inside your head?’ He did not tweet. He did not post a black square. He cared.”

A lot of people in football say things publicly, but they never really come to you personally. De Rossi really wanted to know how I felt. This guy was a club icon. A legend. When I came into the dressing room for the first time, just seeing him made me feel like I was a nervous little kid. 

“But in my toughest moment, De Rossi cared about me as a human being. He wanted to understand.” 

“Am I making some people uncomfortable talking like this? Maybe, but I know that the whole world is going to be watching the Champions League final this weekend, and I want to use my voice to talk about something real.”

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