A Black hockey player in Canada was bombarded with hateful insults and racist slurs like “big n****” by white fans who tried to intimidate him.
Jonathan-Ismael Diaby is a semi-professional player for Jonquiere Marquis in Saguenay, Quebec, who was targeted by fans of the opposing team, St. Jerome Petroliers du Nord, Montreal’s CTV News reports.
“Other people were saying: “You big n****,” and “You baboon,” telling my dad to go back home,” the 24-year-old Diaby told CTV on Tuesday. “At one point I was in the penalty box and I pulled my shirt over my face because I was almost crying.”
Diaby endured several minutes of harassment while in penalty box. At one point, a belligerent fan tried to intimidate him by waved his arms like a gorilla and allegedly showed him pictures of a baboon.
His teammate tried to get the fan to stop, but to no avail. Other fans screamed out to Diaby that he should be eating bananas. And for his family who was sitting in the stands supporting him, things were even worse.
Diaby’s father was assaulted as fans pushed him and the hockey player’s girlfriend had beer poured on her.
Diaby asked officials to escort the irate fans out but they failed to assist, he said.
“Security didn’t do nothing,” Diaby told CTV. “They asked my family to just leave. They asked them to just change places so they could have a quiet game.”
Diaby joined his family in the stands and the rowdy group left before the end of the game.
“My dad was told to go back home, that he had no business in this country.” Diaby told CBC. “People were touching his hair, they were making fun of him. My sister was scared, my girlfriend was scared.”
NAHL Commissioner Jean-Francois Laplante took to Facebook and apologized to Diaby in a video.
Translated from French: “As commissioner of the Ligue Nord-americane de hockey (North American Hockey League), I want to apologize to Jonathan Diaby and his family,” said Jean-François Laplante. “Racist, sexist and homophobic comments are unacceptable and intolerable, be it in everyday life or in our arenas. … Intolerance of differences is based on ignorance. To fight it we have to denounce it and talk about it. That’s why I invite many of you to share this video. I am Diaby.
“The events that happened Saturday … have no place in the large family of hockey,’ said Francis Desrosiers, captain of the Pétroliers de St-Jérôme. ‘Please continue to come out and support us, but with respect.”
Marquis de Jonquiere coach Benoit Gratton agreed: “It’s something that we shouldn’t see anymore and I think it’s disgusting.”
“This is not hockey,” Diaby told CBC. “That’s far beyond what should be happening on a regular Saturday night. Nobody should feel threatened to see his son go play a hockey game.”