The Real Madrid forward who received a bullet as a racist threat | LaLiga VS

In the mid-70s it was common to find signs in London bars prohibiting entry to “dogs, Irish and blacks.” There were few who dared to challenge this type of veto. One of them was Laurie Cunningham, the first black footballer to wear the English national team shirt, for which he received a bullet in the mail as a threat. “My father was born in a time when being black was synonymous with being inferior,” says his son, Sergio, 36, about the iconic player, who became the most expensive transfer in Spanish football when he signed for Real Madrid in 1979. The memory of Cunningham, who played for the club until 1983, is linked to his ability with the ball, his 19 goals in 63 games – including a double against FC Barcelona at the Spotify Camp Nou – and his peculiar way of throw corner kicks with the outside of the foot. His fight served to “pave the way for the new generations,” he comments in this conversation with Fernando Morientes, another Madrid reference from the 90s.

Morientes remembers that some of his locker room colleagues also experienced racist episodes. There were players who “had a hard time going out on the field knowing that they were going to receive insults” because of their skin color, adds the one who was a Real Madrid player between 1997 and 2005, and who also had a career in French football (Olympique de Marseille and AS Monaco) and English (Liverpool FC). Precisely, in the schools of the United Kingdom today the figure of Laurie Cunningham is studied, as Sergio proudly recalls. “It’s something incredible,” he adds. “The basis is education.”

There has been an evident evolution in society, Morientes recalls, with respect to his beginnings in football. “There is a real improvement in the stadiums. The banners have disappeared and the insults are a minority, although there is still a long way to go.” Morientes highlights that fans now “have the opportunity to report” any racist act that occurs during a football match. “LALIGA is doing extraordinary work. Little by little we are solving things,” Sergio agrees. His father’s legacy served to build a future without hate, both inside and outside the stadiums.

Laurie Cunningham, in a Real Madrid match against Athletic Club in 1980.AS FILE
LALIGA VS - All chapters here

The Monitor for the Observation of Hate in Sports

LALIGA has developed a tool that independently monitors the conversation on social networks and audits the level of hate and racism spread around Spanish professional football: one more step in its efforts to detect and eradicate violence and hate speech in football and in society. Every day and using a semantic engine with more than 50,000 linguistic rules and artificial intelligence algorithms, MOOD tracks up to 800,000 messages, calculating metrics that allow the fan to evaluate the progress of our football in this fight week by week.

The level of hate in conversations around football spikes last day

CREDITS

Of the project Juan Antonio Carbajo (Editorial coordination) | Adolfo Domenech (Design Coordination) | Daniel Domínguez (Editor) | Alejandro Martín (Editor) | Juan Sánchez (Design) | Rodolfo Mata (Development)

Of the video Quique Oñate (Realization) | Paula D. Molero (Editing) | Paloma Oliveira (Production) | José Lastra (Director of photography) | María Page, Álvaro Mora, Luis García-Ballestero (Camera operators) | Aitor Álvarez (Technical Manager) | Sara Saiz (Makeup and Hairstyling)

From the audio Elia Fernández Granados (Executive production) | Laura Escarza (Script and production) | Dani Gutiérrez (Sound editing)

With the collaboration of LALIGA Anastasia Llorens, Dúnia Martín, Margherita Bertuol and María Lapeña.

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