Mino Raiola on racism: Romelu Lukaku’s mum took his birth certificate to games

Mino Raiola & Romelu Lukaku

Swedish paper Expressen have a remarkable interview on Sunday with Mino Raiola.

Much of the interview centred on Raiola’s relationship with Swedish superstar Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

During that chat, the agent talked about Zlatan’s comeback from injury, how long he expects Ibra to carry on playing, and what’s next for the Man United striker.

But Raiola also has several other high profile Man United stars as clients, including Paul Pogba and Roemlu Lukaku.

Expressen asked for Raiola’s thoughts on whether his black clients suffer from racism, and the former pizza boy answered the question head on.

Raiola on racism

Raiola’s interesting comments on how his clients such as Pogba and Lukaku have to deal with racism went as follows:

First and foremost: Football is the most democratic sport. It must be the same for all. 

People say there is no discrimination in football? Black players are constantly discriminated against. There is conscious discrimination. It comes from this world’s bastards.

There is also unaware discrimination. We think we think correctly, but we have stereotypes which we justify. When people ask me about a black player they always ask: ‘Is he like …?’ And then they compare him to another player. 

Is he like Pogba? Is he like Balotelli? Is he like Lukaku? I never hear any question: Is he like the Toivonen? Or is he like Ibra? Or is he like Beckham?

Black players are put in a corner, they become stereotypes instantly. When they are young, they have to do even more to succeed. It’s not enough to be as good as a white player, you need to be better. It was the same situation for Zlatan in Sweden. He needed to prove more.

Then there are claims that black players are physically stronger. That’s not right. It is discrimination. There is no scientific evidence for that. 

Another thing I hear all the time is that black players are not technical enough. If you only have physical attritubes, you definitely do not play for Manchester United. You need technical skills, intelligence, mentality, professionalism. 

Many people in sport think like that. I give a name, for example a Dutch player. Their first question is whether he is black or white. I ask what the hell does it matter? Do you think this happens in American sport? Scottie Pippen, is he black or white? Who in hell cares? Can he play basketball? Can he play soccer?

For Lukaku, this has always been a problem.

I was talking to his mother. Eventually she went to youth matches with birth certificate. She always ended up with other parents who did not think he was 12 or 14 years old. It was always a fuss that he scored three or four goals. 

He was bigger and physically strong, yes. But they screamed that it was not in the right age. So she took the birth certificate. He was born in Belgium, but they spread false reports he been born in Africa. ‘Here it is’, she said.

Paul (Pogba) is an ambassador to the Respect campaign now. I tried it with (Mario) Balotelli in Italy, where we are 50 years behind everyone else. 

I’m always happy when a black player goes off the plan in protest against racism. If Mario or Paul would do that I would not have any problems with that.