There was a time it felt like humans were rising above their petty bigotry and racism. Until the U.S. lost its moral authority on the matter, but we are going to steer clear off that topic, and say. Generally, the world seems to have taken steps backward, when you hear statements such as champions for nationalism as another fancy word to describe racism and bigotry.
Paul Pogba is one heck of a midfielder for English soccer club Manchester United. Well, he is black, playing European football, and in virtually all matches he will be playing will mostly be filled with people from other races other than his own.
The 26-year-old has indeed had more than his fair share of racist remarks thrown at him both on the pitch and off the pitch. However, he has a special way of tackling the racists overtures from spectators. Instead of walking off the pitch, like we have seen with some players as a reaction to racism, Pogba says stay on the pitch and perform your best.
“Leave the pitch? You want to play, you want to score for your team,” said Pogba in a recent interview with a section of the media. “And at the end, they (racist spectators) will come and ask for a picture.”
The UEFA governing body also does very little in regards to punishing players and fans for their racists remarks. For instance, in a recent march between Chelsea and Manchester City, Man-City’s Raheem Sterling was racially insulted by Chelsea fans. Afterward, Sterling and other black England players were also racially targetted by Montenegro supporter in the Euro 2020 qualifier. Tottenham Hotspur defender Danny Rose said he was “shocked” at the light punishment by UEFA on Montenegro.
Pogba had to respond to critics who said he was not worth the $113.5 million transfer from Juventus in 2016.
“I become another player because of the transfer. Because it was the biggest transfer of history at the time, you get judged differently. You expect more because of the price tag. A good game becomes a normal game, a top game will be a good game.”
Pogba was blamed a lot when Man-U started the season with poor play under Jose Mourinho. His critics compared his performance during the World Cup and for his club. When Mourinho was replaced by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Man-U had an early start, but later tailed off and Pogba became the punching bag where all the blames for the losses were directed.
In that season, Man-U finished sixth place and missed out on the Champions League football. Ironically, Pogba was the only player selected in the Premier League team in that season from the top two clubs (Man-City and Liverpool).
According to Pogba, what contributed to his selection was, well, him. His haircut styles and body language while on the pitch.
“I always play like that and, thank God, I won the World Cup like that. Body language, haircut, all these things is just to speak. Since I was a kid, I play like this. It’s not a problem when we win. Only when we lose or if I have a bad performance it becomes a problem.”
Last season, he scored 13 goals of the 35 in last season, Premier League. Pogba says he will not change his personality despite his success in English football and becoming one of the highest paid footballers in the world.
“I am still the Paul I used to be as a kid. I grow, I become taller, but I am the same person who follows his dream. People will love me like that. People will hate me like that.”