Executives from the Chomutov and Liberec hockey teams of the Czech Extraliga has come out to condemn racist chants directed at Wayne Simmonds after his fight on Sunday. Simmonds and his Liberec team were visiting Chomutov when fans began chanting “opice” (“monkey” in English) at the Philadelphia Flyers forward. This scene is nothing new for Wayne Simmonds or his agent, Eustace King of O2K Management. King has to deal with racial issues directed at Simmonds last year when someone threw a banana peel towards him during a preseason game.
King spoke with Puck Daddy Monday afternoon and said “I think fans need to remember that athletes, their workplace is an arena and in front of massive crowds. This type of abuse should not and will not be accepted. And it wouldn’t be accepted in any typical workplace. So why should it be accepted in an arena by more than one fan?” He added “To me this is just a verbal assault.” Jaroslav Veverka, general manager for the Chomutov hockey team, called on fans to identify the people who took part in the chants because they were no longer welcome in the team’s arena.
Racism towards professional athletes is nothing new. Players for international soccer teams have been dealing with it for decades now, as well as black NASCAR drivers and personnel.
“I’ve talked about after the last incident with the banana… fans need to be told there’s a conduct and it has to be written somewhere, whether that’s on the ticket, whether it’s when they walk in the building, that they need to be told there are repercussions for their actions,” said King. “It can come in multiple forms: It could be denied entry to their game; it could be a revoke of season tickets, but they will be held accountable. I think if all leagues across North America and Europe and in the world did that, and it would tie to this sensitive topic or issue that deals with race relations, I think that people would have a clear understanding of what’s acceptable and what’s not acceptable.”
“The players understand that there’s certain things that come with the territory of playing on the ice. ‘Hey, you’re a bad player’ or ‘you can’t skate’; those things players understand. People are critiquing their ability to do their job. But any of these racial overtones are not acceptable. It’s something we have to and the leagues have to address.”
Signed, Isidori Mtabo