Football: French Minister supports Mensah’s racist suit
He had decided to pack up, quit Lyon and retire
A French football supporter who racially abused John Mensah, Ghanaian international currently playing for Olympique Lyonnais (OL), during a match against Le Havre, was held for interrogation, Tuesday, and later released under a strict judicial order, after he confessed to his nefarious racist acts.
Despite his team’s impeccable score (3-1) at the Gerland stadium, John Mensah was so emotionally distraught and pained by the incident that he “decided to quit Lyon, France, and end his career by going back to Ghana” said his lawyer, Alain Jakubowicz. Completely destabilised in the course of the match by the racially charged acts against him, the Ghanaian international unsuccessfully pleaded with his coach, Claude Puel, to have him replaced before the second half. This prompted him to intentionally attract two yellow cards during the second half, which lead to an automatic dismissal from the game.
Monday, John Mensah filed a lawsuit supported by Le Havre, who claim that this is an “isolated act”. The Professional Football League (LFP) has also indicated that they will file a separate civil suit. “He is not feeling too good, but his club and co-players are strongly behind him and I believe everyone is conscious of the gravity of situation at hand”, said Alain Jakubowicz during a meeting with OL’s administrative director. OL (Lyon), Le Havre AC and The Professional Football League (LFP) have released a joint communiqué on their respective websites condemning the act.
The French Minister of Immigration, Integration, National Identity and Solidarity, Eric Besson, has also weighed in saying he is “shocked by the racist act” against the Ghanaian player. According to L’Equipe.fr, the minister has demanded a more severe punishment against racism in stadiums. Meanwhile, Claude Puel has announced that he deeply regrets for not heeding to John Mensah’s request to take him off the field after the first half.
Justifying his racist insults against John Mensah, during interrogation by the police, the racist hooligan claimed that he acted irresponsibly because he was under the influence of alcohol. However, Alain Jakubowicz has indicated on OL’s official site that: “there is going to be an investigation followed by a lawsuit. And he (the Havre supporter) will be sentenced accordingly, as he has not denied the charges”
This is not the only unpleasant experience the young Ghanaian player has suffered in France because of his skin colour. His decision to pack up and leave is not by virtue of “an isolated case”. In September 2008, he was forcefully detained for several hours and questioned for theft, following his arrest by the Lyon police who did not want to believe that a Black person could afford the car he was driving. According to the footballer, the police had not even bothered asking him for his documents before making him lie on the ground to be hand-cuffed.