The news that Olimpija Ljubljana football club head coach Marko Nikolic, who made a racial slur against his own player would keep his job has raised eyebrows.
Nikolic who coaches the Slovenian football league team Olimpija Ljubljana reportedly called his own player, Nigerian national Blessing Eleke a “black idiot” after the Nigerian scored an equalizer but engaged in an elaborate celebration.
The celebration didn’t amuse Nikolic who felt Eleke wasted time with his over the top celebration.
While the coach has apologised for his words, which he maintains were not racially motivated, the announcement by the club president Milan Mandaric that Nikolic would keep his job surely leaves a bad taste in the mouth.
The club president Mandaric said they will not take any tough action against the Nikolic because, “the coach did not target the player’s race”.
While Mandaric says Eleke’s race was not targeted, one can then question, what did the player’s blackness have to do with his perceived idiocy?
It’s surprising that the coach managed to keep his job and he was neither reprimanded nor fined for the racial slur and such a soft stance sweeps racism under the carpet.
Racism remains an endemic problem affecting European football, and the scourge continues to pollute the spirit and image of the game.
There are a plethora of cases where players and fans have been targeted because of their race. African players have been frequently victimised and there are numerous cases where football fans make racial slurs, throwing bananas at players and making monkey chants.
The football authorities, from the club executives to national governing bodies need to take a tougher stance and walk the talk on fighting racist attitudes pervasive amongst fans, players and coaches.