Football has successfully integrated many different people from many different cultures – do you think, as a society, we can learn from that?
I think so. In football, as in life, we have no obligation to like everybody but we can try to work together and respect everybody. We do this in football [for a] result on the pitch, so it can work to have a result in life.
Did you ever come across any racism while you were growing up?
It happened once but I didn’t realise quite how bad it was because I was quite young, but today am I older and I can see how important it is and how bad it can be with any racist abuse on the pitch or in life. This is because we are all the same really, just different cultures.
What would your advice be for a young person who may be suffering from racist abuse?
It is a difficult situation because when you are foreign it is the last thing you want to hear. It’s difficult but you have to try to deal with it in a calm way. That can only work if you try to teach kids that this world has different cultures and different origins, but that we go to school and try to learn the same stuff and do the same things – we are quite the same.
If we can teach it early to our children, they can grow up with it from generation to generation.
Why do you think some people are racist?
I don’t really know, but sometimes it is said that people are more afraid of what they don’t know. So if you see something new you are scared and maybe you don’t like it, but rather than trying to learn, some individuals react in a negative way.
Sometimes that is how things can be and the way society is going, you can see some foreign people try to make a better living in another country, and maybe the people who are already there should try to understand they are coming pnly to try and make their lives better.
Do you think the media has a role to play in racist views?
Of course, as everything that can have major publicity attached to it can help in one way. This would be to try to see a little bit of everything from different cultures, and not give in the stereotypes because today we have no choice. We are multicultural. This is the way our society is, so we have to learn to live with it rather than fight against it.
Is there any time when racism might be considered to be acceptable?
In no case can racism be acceptable. You just have to put yourself in others’ shoes. If you are from a different culture and living in another country, you would not like that to happen to you or your kids.
You need to think that, as parents and individuals, the same can one day happen to you if you maybe choose to go and live in another country, so it is not fair for you to let it happen to somebody else.