Many Moroccans residing in Europe can relate to Azzouzi’s experience of racism.
Rabat – Former Moroccan international football player Rachid Azzouzi has expressed concern about the rise of far-right movements and racism in Europe.
The managing director of the German second division club, SpVgg Greuther Furth, shared his life experience with media outlet Nurnberger Nachrichten.
“Racism has been with me all my life. The shift to the right across Europe is very worrying and also a little scary,” Azzouzi told the German newspaper.
The 49-year-old, born in Fez, moved to Germany at the age of two and has spent the majority of his life living in the central European country.
“It has become more normalized to show discrimination. I have felt this more and more in recent years,” he added
The ex-midfielder played 37 games for the Moroccan national team and participated in the 1992 Summer Olympics and the FIFA World Cups in both 1994 and 1998.
Azzouzi spent most of his senior career at Greuther Furth, but despite becoming a club legend he could not escape racism.
“Here in Furth, as a player, I was called camel driver by individuals.”
The managing director has also experienced discrimination in his everyday life.
“When you travel, you are more and more the one who is randomly checked. There are a lot of subtle things,” he noted.
The comments came amid an ongoing debate in Germany about football-related racism.
The debate emerged at the beginning of February after Hertha Berlin defender Jordan Torunarigha was subject to monkey chants from Schalke 04 supporters.
Torunarigha was shown a red card for an emotional reaction only a couple of minutes after the referee had been informed of racial slurs against the player.
The incident sparked a heated debate, as the vast majority of players and fans believed that the referee should have protected the player and showed understanding instead of sending him off for his reaction.
Another incident occurred in the middle of February when German footballer Leroy Kwadko was racially abused by a fan.
The supporter was identified and escorted out of the stadium, while supporters began to chant “Nazis out” as a show of support for Kwadko.
On Saturday, unprecedented scenes took place as players of Hoffenheim and Bayern Munich refused to play after Bayern supporters displayed a banner referring to Hoffenheim owner and beneficiary Dietmar Hopp as a “son of a whore”.
The incident was not racially motivated and has been criticized by many who believe that teams should also refuse to play when racially-motivated incidents take place.
Azzouzi told the German newspaper that he would have hoped that players in the Schalke match would have acted the same way as the players did in the Hoffenheim match.
“It must not happen that there is a strike only when it comes to a white, wealthy man – and not with a colored player,” he stated.