The Swedish World Cup team may have lost to Germany on Saturday, but Sweden certainly won the day after the team took an unequivocal stand against racist online attacks levied at one of its players. During Saturday’s matchup, Swedish midfielder Jimmy Durmaz fouled German forward Timo Werner, giving away a free kick that led to Germany’s victory—and endangering Sweden’s fate at the Russia games. Soon after, Durmaz, 29, who was born in Sweden to Assyrian parents who had emigrated from Turkey, says he was bombarded with racist insults, including death threats against him and his family, which the Swedish soccer club reported to police, according to the BBC.
In response, Durmaz, backed by his team, delivered a statement to the media condemning the hate: “I am a footballer at the highest level; to be criticized is something we have to live with; it is part of our job and we accept that every day of the week,” he said. “But to be called ‘bloody darkie’ and ‘suicide killer,’ and for my family, my children, to have death threats . . . that is completely unacceptable. I am Swedish and I am proud to be wearing this shirt and our flag. We stand united. We are Sweden.” At which point, Durmaz turns to his assembled teammates, who say in unison, “Fuck racism.”
At a time when phrases like racially charged or racially motivated often tiptoe around what is clearly racism, the Swedish national team’s blunt message was both powerful and exceedingly welcome. As white nationalist rhetoric sweeps not just the United States but Europe, as well, it’s time to stop trafficking in euphemisms and start calling racism by its proper name—whenever and wherever we see it. To borrow Durmaz’s Instagram hashtag: #FuckRacism. And go Sweden!