Altidore plays on through racist abuse, leads AZ to romp over FC Den Bosch

By IVES GALARCEP

Jozy Altidore has faced his share of adversity in his pro career, but he has never faced anything quite as ugly as what he experienced on Tuesday.

Altidore was the subject of racist abuse from fans of Dutch side FC Den Bosch during their Dutch Cup clash with Altidore and AZ Alkmaar. AZ was already on their way to victory when the racist abuse began being aimed at the U.S. Men’s National Team striker.

Altidore didn’t walk off the field, but chose instead to keep playing and he responded to the abuse by scoring a goal and helping set up two more in AZ’s 5-0 thrashing of FC Den Bosch.

Altidore’s penalty kick goal, his 20th of the season in all competitions (a new career record), would normally have been the headline of Tuesday’s match, but it was his courage in the face of abuse, and his willingness to face that abuse head on and fight through it that made him the big winner on a day when some FC Den Bosch fans put a black eye on soccer in The Netherlands.

After the match, Altidore spoke calmly about the incident and explained his decision to play on through the racist abuse.

“It’s a bit disappointing that these things still happen in this time that we’re in, but what are you going to do,” Altidore said. “You just hope that these people can find a way to improve themselves and you pray for them.

“I feel like I have an obligation as a football player to my club and to my family as well, to kind of not react to things like this and show that the club stands better of that and that I was raised better than that to respond to such ridiculous behavior,” Altidore said.

“It’s a bit disappointing because you would hope that we as humanity can grow from these type of times,” Altidore said. “but at the end of the day it’s still alive, racism, and all we can do now is just try to educate ourselves, and the young kid scoming up, to be better than that.

“All I can do is pray for them and hope they can become better people.”

When asked how he kept his composure amid the ugly scenes, Altidore made it clear that reacting negatively was never an option.

“What do you expect me to do? I’m not going to fight them,” Altidore said. “They just have some issues and they just need some help.”

What do you think of how Altidore handled the incident? Think he was courageous to keep on playing, or do you think he should have followed the lead of Kevin Prince-Boateng, who famously walked off the field with AC Milan amid racist abuse during a pre-season friendly? Shocked to see an incident like this take place in a traditionally progressive country like the Netherlands?

Share your thoughts below.

This entry was posted in Americans Abroad, European Soccer, Featured. Bookmark the permalink.

106 Responses to Altidore plays on through racist abuse, leads AZ to romp over FC Den Bosch

  1. Patrick Snyder says:

    I am proud as a US fan that he stood his ground and played like the star that he could be.

  2. Ryan says:

    If you think the Netherlands is racially progressive, I would encourage you to google “Zwarte Piet”. Legal weed and red light districts don’t necessarily equate to societal progress.

    • Ryan says:

      I should add that I’m incredibly proud of Jozy’s response, and that I’m not calling the whole country racist.

    • MiamiAl says:

      Holland is a racist land. That tolerance ideal they promote is a sham…

    • EA says:

      One could argue that legal weed and red light districts ARE evidence of societal progress. Not germane to the discussion, but still.

    • Factor of Four says:

      I’ve lived in Germany and Austria for a few years. You have to understand Europe has been homogeneous for thousands of years. This whole multiculturalism is an American ideal and its being forced on people without them having a say in it (I won’t get into whose doing it). You’re trying an experiment that’s never been done before without knowing the consequences.

      Asia for Asians, Africa for Africans, but Europe is for everyone?

      • Nathan says:

        Oh, please do tell us more about how there are only Asians in Asia and no one but Africans are allowed in Africa. Please.

        • Seriously says:

          Not to mention thw whole “multi-cultural” thing is far from an American thing. Greece and Rome were at it in Europe before the USA was a twinkle in the eye of the founding fathers. Such ignorance is appalling.

      • Joamiq says:

        Spare us this nonsense. European homogeneity is a myth and a pathetic excuse for bad behavior on the part of European individuals, who are in any case not constrained by history in the way they choose to act.

        • Kejsare says:

          But the entire premise of nationalism that erupted in Europe in the 16th-17th Century is predicated on a shared cultural identity. It is not racial per se, but it is pretty close to having identifying markers. Breaking down this “identity” that is connected to the people who lived there is difficult.

          I lived in Sweden for two years and there are elements of racism you may not realize exist even there. There are ghettos in Sweden: Rinkeby, most of Malmo. I saw a darker skinned man get racially abused from another man on a balcony. It’s there.

          Think about a Swedish man, picture what he looks like. Did you think he was a third generation Chilean immigrant because his grandparents moved to Sweden during the Pinochet regime? See the difficulty? They don’t modify Swedish citizenship by just taking on another geographic reference. Asian-American. There is no equivalent Asian-Swede spoken of.

          • titan says:

            Great point. i visited Rinkeby as well. The apartments near the Centrum are mostly African ( I believe Somalis) hardly any white Swedes. The racism there is more hidden

      • Martin Blank says:

        I’m sure South Africans would beg to differ.

        People getting along together isn’t an American ideal, it’s human ideal.

    • Frank says:

      That is frightening.

  3. Ryan says:

    I couldn’t be prouder of Jozy. It’s worth watching the highlights, wherein you can see him urging the referee and the players to keep playing, and his post-match press conference, wherein he responded in a thoughtful and composed manner to the (rather annoying) questions posed by the interviewer.

  4. Ed says:

    This is ridiculous – the amount of racism in Europe is out of hand. Could not have been easily for Altidore. I wonder if this will get anywhere near the amount of attention the walking off the field incident did.

    • proudofjozy says:

      The problem with Europe is that there is no racism there. They don’t acknolegde that there is racism is there. That racism is an American thing. True we have our problems but atleast we reckognise this, we as a society try to deal and talk about it. In Europe they think they are above racism.

      (sorry for the bad spelling)

      • Kejsare says:

        I think the difference is the dialogue on race in the US is open. We are more race conscious when dealing with our past. It appears Europe is not as well versed in how to discuss and approach racism. Some of it is nationalism and xenophobia among all else.

        • David JS says:

          I know you weren’t saying this, so I’m not trying to put words in your mouth…but, while many European cultures could learn from the dialogue on race we have in the US, our dialogue is perverse and convoluted in ways that we refuse to acknowledge and certainly has immeasurable room for improvement. I’ll stop there because obviously this isn’t the forum for that discussion, but lets just not puff our chests out too far on racial discourse.

    • No says:

      Let’s not pretend this country is post-racial just yet.

      • beachbum says:

        no one is, but if you did that sh!t in a US stadium, you’d probably get your ass kicked

      • David JS says:

        I don’t think post-racial exists. It’s an interesting idea, but I don’t think that should be the goal of society. Eliminating racism should be and remain the focus of modern society.

    • THomas says:

      In America, it’s getting massive attention. I live in Chicago and was driving into work today and the main sports talk radio station in town was talking about it. And how they couldn’t believe this sort of thing still happened.

      They also were very high on Altidore and couldn’t have more praise for how he handled the situation. I don’t think they know how young he is and his background, but they kept talking about how well he did in handling a terrible situation.

    • THomas says:

      This ought to end any speculation that he isn’t mature enough, I’m sure JK couldn’t be prouder. Has he said anything about the incident yet?

  5. Josh D says:

    Legendary response. Made his club, his country, his family, and himself proud. Well done Jozy.

  6. Travis in Miami says:

    I support both the reactions of Jozy and Boateng. Each in their own way let’s it be known they will not stand for the behavior. Jozy’s comments after the game are pretty spot on.

    • 20 says:

      I agree completely. Two different ways of responding, but both of them took a stand in their own way. I have so much respect for both these men, and I’m especially proud of Jozy.. he represented Americans well today.

      • Adrian says:

        2 ways of responding to 2 different scenarios. Walking off for a friendly against a minnow club is fine. Walking off in a real game would be different – would the league view it as a forfeit? Would the ref call the game? Much trickier situation. Kudos to Altidore for being brave.

        • Travis in Miami says:

          exactly

        • David JS says:

          Totally agree, Travis, 20, and Adrian. Ultimately, both Jozy and Prince ended up acting in their own self-interest and didn’t allow the antagonizers to take that away from them. In Boateng’s case, walking off the field didn’t hurt him or his team whatsoever (because it was a friendly) and not only did it illuminate the perpetrators but it also sent a strong message out to the world. In Jozy’s case, he did what was best for him and his team by continuing to play, and play well, and he bagged a goal with AZ advancing in the Cup. I’m glad he didn’t let some ignorant hooligans get what they wanted by doing something that would’ve in the end hurt himself and his team (e.g. walking off and somehow getting his team DQ’d). In the end, so long as you prevail from the situation and don’t let these despicable racist abusers achieve any form of ‘victory’, for lack of a better term, then you should be lauded with praise and appreciation. Well done to both guys.

    • Joamiq says:

      Hear, hear.

  7. Coop says:

    True professional. Go on and shut them up with your play and let those whose job it is to deal with these fans deal with them. If nothing is done let FIFA take action. As a player you it may be hard but keep on playing, that’s your responsibility to the fans.

    • Coop says:

      While I don’t take anything from boateng for what he did it does in some way give credence to the racists’ actions. If they know they can get to you to the point you leave, they’ve sort felt they won maybe? I just think jozy’s reaction was better. Let it motivate you to win. Hell US players are used to it ANYWHERE south of the border.

      • David JS says:

        that is why it was the perfect chance for Boateng to make his stance, because his display didn’t hurt himself or his team because it was only a friendly. I totally agree with you about not letting racists achieve any sort of victory, moral or real, from their appalling behavior.

  8. Gnarls says:

    Incredibly disappointing event, but wow did Jozy handle himself like a champ in that interview. He’s mature beyond his years and a shining example of an American abroad.

  9. TomG says:

    Good for you, Jozy. Let your play speak for itself. Boating did what he felt he had to do in the situation and hopefully we will see results from the attention he drew to the problem. I hope that the matter today will be looked into and the perpetrators will be banned and prosecuted to the maximum extent. Jozy probably feels that today was an isolated incident while Boateng perhaps felt differently. The Dutch Cup is also a big deal for AZ this year while Boateng was playing a friendly.

  10. Gnarls says:

    “Born in the USA!” Making us proud over there, Jozy.

  11. ajsthind says:

    Respect to Jozy. We sometimes neglect to talk about the character that our athletes have, but both the USMNT and USWNT are full of solid human beings.

  12. SuperChivo says:

    Pure class on the pitch and with his comments afterwards. It couldn’t have been handled better.

  13. jidax says:

    Jozy surprised me today , I have been fan of hi m since as long as I Can remember, and here in the US in a few weeks will be black History Month so well done sir, we do not tolerate or encourage racism, and as an AFRICAN AMERICAN and HAITIAN Heritage like Jozy I am so proud !!! I always felt sorry for people being racist and it goes both ways white on black or black on White or whatever, just sad and we can only pray for these people.

  14. Falsify says:

    Can someone please post a link to the video highlights?

  15. Beto says:

    Well done Jozy!

  16. hammeggs says:

    I think he handled this great. Not giving anything to feed these racists is a good idea.

  17. Jamie Z. says:

    Go, Jozy! He’s really coming into his own in more ways than one. He makes it easy to support him. Class act.

  18. Artie Armstrong says:

    Should I be the one who says it?

    “Jozy Altidore is so lazy he couldn’t be bothered to walk off the field under a barrage of racist abuse.”

    Seriously, though: Jozy continues to make us proud.

  19. Old School says:

    Just another example of the maturation of Jozy Altidore.

  20. Sean says:

    Jozy, you behaved in a classy manner. I believe that your comments will reach some hearts. I’m sorry that this sort of thing is still alive. It is alive in every culture in the world, alive towards every culture in the world. Misunderstanding, fear, selfishness, aggression. It all exists despite progress.

  21. Alexandria says:

    It happens the same way everytime its like being the only black kid in class when its time to talk about slavery, and civil rights and everyone stares at you. Nothing will ever change until White players are the ones taking the lead. It should’ve never been up to Jozy to play or not, it shouldn’t be hey are you ok getting abused and going on? The captain of that team should have said no, leaving it like its Jozy’s decision is ridiculous, he owes no one anything especially not fans who do nothing when racists are among them.

  22. Tony in Quakeland says:

    Jozy Altidore = Class Act

    • beachbum says:

      this is the story

      the rest is what it always has been

    • Four Cents says:

      Jozy can loose his cool from time to time (headbutts and such..) as all people do, but he held strong and came out a better man with this one. We’re proud of you Jozy- from your goal scoring ways, to your mental strength.. The better man…

  23. Roman Lewandowski says:

    Jozy’s fortitude and his remarks after the game were fantastic. I don’t understand his reputation as a “childish” player among many US fans. I have always found his interview comments insightful, and today’s words only add to that impression in my mind.

    I will go so far as to say Jozy’s reaction is the only correct one in situations like this. Some of these people will be encouraged when they see games ending because of their actions. You can’t let people like that have any say in the outcome. Maybe Boateng’s punt into the stands is coloring my impression, but I think his decision is also wrong on principle, for the reasons I just stated.

    Finally, I know this is a cheap shot, but I am tired of reading Western Europeans’ comments about racism in sports in America and Eastern Europe. We seem to read about events like this in France, Benelux, and Italy all the time.

    • GW says:

      I’ll take the cheap shot.

      I don’t know if you have ever spent much time in that part of Europe but when it comes to racism they like to act as if they are so much better than Americans.

      We have a ways to go on this issue but if you spend time in Europe you won’t feel so bad about how far we have come.

      Jozy has shown himself to be an excellent ambassador and has made me proud. I always suspected our guys were pretty high character and it’s encouraging to be proved right about something.

  24. Eddie says:

    A true professional showing the greatness of an American. This is why America has come so far as a nation and why Europe in general still has an uncivilized segment of society.

    • Jamie Z. says:

      I was with you through “professional showing,” but I would argue against your assertion that American society doesn’t have its own “uncivilized segments,” just like everybody else. I’m all for praising Jozy’s maturity and fortitude, but I’m fully against attributing it to American exceptionalism.

    • meowmix says:

      Uhh, while I agree that Europe has some serious problems, and their racism issues seem to be a bit out of control, I think we can all agree that every country has a lot of problems to deal with. Humans are complex animals, and we’ve all got a long way to go

  25. wilyboy says:

    I heard someone observe that Jesse Owens responsed to Hitler and his view of the races by proving empirically that he was the superior athlete. 5-0, FC Den Bosch. And I bet he wasn’t even sweating. Not only are the chanters scum, they are also losers. Way to play on, Altidore.

    • wilyboy says:

      Responded.

    • The Squad says:

      You heard from someone???

      One of the benefits of the modern version of communication and to a certain extent, learning, is that you can retrieve information about any event preserved via motion recording or photograph……..

      Look at certain individuals exit the Olympic stadium after Jesse and company simply came to work and executed the business of the day.

      Of course, a cigarrette was enjoyed with members of the German track and field squad following the events of the day (not recorded)

      • Karol says:

        Hitler didn`t snub Owens.

        “And Jesse Owens tells everyone who will listen, look, Adolf Hitler did not snub me. But nobody wanted to hear that story. And the story proved remarkably durable, and persists to this day. ”

        link to npr.org

        • The Squad says:

          “Look at certain individuals exit the Olympic stadium after Jesse and company simply came to work and executed the business of the day.”

  26. Ryan B says:

    He should have walked off with the team, or taken the Balotelli route from the Euros, meaning he should have ended up in jail for killing the racists fans.

    Just kidding, he did the right thing, I just wish he wasn’t the better man so that racists would get the a$s beat

  27. Southernboy says:

    Being a southern white boy from Birmingham, Alabama growing up in the 70′s I have seen my fair share of racism from a lot of different angles. I have never been more proud to have a Jozy Altidore jersey in my drawer. Top shelf class Mr. Altidore.

  28. MLS_Soccer_Talker says:

    Those FC Den Bosch fan’s saw their crappy team get beat and then they started chanting racist things… stay classy FC Den Bosch..

  29. CJ says:

    I wonder how the European media will react to the story? Are they going to discuss it as front page news or are they going to act like it was no big deal? Are they culpable in thinking racism is merely an American problem and not a Dutch problem?

    Props to Jozy.

    • Bobb says:

      Good question, I’d love to know what the European media does with this story (if anything at all).

  30. G. Lebowski says:

    It should not be the player’s choice to walk off the field or not. It should be the referee who immediately halts the game and ejects the racist a**holes or declares an immediate forfeit for the home side with the racist fans. This is just so sickening.
    Kudos to Jozy a class act. And kudos to Jermaine Jones, Fabian Johnson, and Timmy Chandler. We love you guys!!!

  31. natsalways says:

    All I can say is well done, young man and God bless you!

    And now go score 2 or 3 against Honduras in a week!

  32. natsalways says:

    Oh, and notice this story is front page on ESPN right now. A stellar young man gets press time for class behavior in the face of racist taunting. Sometimes the media gets it right….and this is one case. Too bad the English is so poor in the article…

    Oh well. Go NATS!

  33. The Squad says:

    The utter corruption of the entity commonly known as ” FIFA” Should come to the forefront here…..

    Look at the smirks on the face of certain players as Jozy lined up for the kick.

    An inferior side who looks to fans to distract the most dangerous player on the pitch.

    Reminds of the “hook-head” chants aimed at distracting NBA hall of Fame player Gary Payton during his days at Oregon State

    So let me see you argument here:

    A gentleman, along with a pitch full of gentlemen, who possesses superior agility, awareness, strength, dedication and general physical ability is somehow inferior to you??

    And you paid to see this game??

    Wow

  34. The Squad says:

    The utter corruption of the entity commonly known as ” FIFA” Should come to the forefront here…..

    Look at the smirks on the face of certain players as Jozy lined up for the kick.

    An inferior side who looks to fans to distract the most dangerous player on the pitch.

    Reminds of the “hook-head” chants aimed at distracting NBA hall of Fame player Gary Payton during his days at Oregon State

    So let me see your argument here:

    A gentleman, along with a pitch full of gentlemen, who possesses superior agility, awareness, strength, dedication and general physical ability is somehow inferior to you??

    And you paid to see this game??

    Wow

  35. Matt says:

    Personally contacted the FC Den Bosch club via their website, shaming them and their fans. I encourage others to do as well. I find it intolerable that the club hasn’t mentioned the events or responded with condemnation. Completely absurd.

  36. olu says:

    Thumb up man! Sure your moma raised you well. Proud of you

  37. biff says:

    I watched the video of Jozy’s penalty kick and it does appear, as a poster above says, that a couple of players — one an AZ teammate — are smirking indulgently at the racist chanting. Very disturbing, turns my stomach.

    Jozy stepping up to take the kick will go down in history as one of the most courageous, classiest acts ever.

  38. Hush says:

    Great job on behalf of El Jozy. His post game interview was definitely the right attitude. I know it hurt him deeply, but to react the way he did was simply class! I probably would have went crazy up in the stadium.

    The racism in Europe is simply disgusting. And for Euros always ranting over how much more advanced they’re in social behavior is just a load of crap. To take such hatred into public venues is a disgrace especially in a society where education isn’t bad at all.

    I know for a fact that if racist chants were chanted in the U.S, hell would break out…. I just can’t picture racist chants ever happening in this country. We are more aware of the situation than those clowns in Europe.

  39. FK PIRIN says:

    I have lived for two years or more in Burkina Faso, old Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria, and the US. 8 have travelled to virtually every country in Europe, and to Russia, Mongolia, China, Egypt, and some parts of Africa. I have seen the same thing everywhere. More conservative people don’t embrace change and try to hang on to the old ideas, which usually have some racism. It is also natural for similar people to group together and different people to stay apart. Every country has groups of people that are more easily identifiable and disliked. Africans and Roma in Europe, especially Eastern Europe, Muslims in Bulgaria, Almost anybody different in Russia, Christians in Egypt, Muslims and Koreans in China, etc. It’s everywhere and roughly the same.

    The difference in the US is that It is much less acceptable in public. Many Western European countries have tried to do the same thing, but it isn’t quite there yet. In many other countries, people just don’t understand what the fuss is, they don’t see the problem. They especially think Americans are fighting against nature and are being judgmental.

    As an odd example in Bulgaria the neutral word for Africans is the N word, and the more negative word is to call someone black. Virtually no one Ilived with for years understood why the n word bothered me. They thought I was crazy. The old Communist regimes were socially conservative and ideas on race didn’t change much from the 1940s, so many people still think that way all over Eastern Europe, and Russia but the younger generation is now different.

    • Gnarls says:

      Interesting stuff. Thanks for sharing.

      See, this is why I love soccer. It’s the one sport that demands a global perspective. I just can’t imagine an NFL or NASCAR blogpost beginning with, “I have lived for two years or more in Burkina Faso, old Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria…”

    • edmondo says:

      Ahh..don’t forget Asians and Arabs. Talk to Indians and Pakistanis in the UK and Arabs in France…they get the brunt.

  40. Bob says:

    I lived in Europe for 6 years. Europeans are the most racist people on the planet.

  41. Sir Coble says:

    Great post match interview. Great.

  42. Gnarls says:

    Racism exists everywhere, even in places where the oppressed and the oppressor look nearly the same. People who pride themselves on equality – Western Europeans, Americans, et al. – are just as capable of prejudice and racism as those who’ve no need for pretense. It’s interesting to me how soccer has a way of exposing a society’s seedy underbelly.