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.