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Hoffenheim players celebrate goal by showing support for teammate who was racially abused

Doug McIntyre
·3-min read

Ryan Sessegnon’s Hoffenheim teammates weren’t about to let the despicable racist abuse the on-loan Tottenham Hotspur fullback suffered earlier this week on Instagram slide.

So after Mu'nas Dabbur scored the German club’s opening goal in Thursday’s 5-0 rout of Czech side Slovan Liberec in the UEFA Europa League group stage, Hoffenheim’s players collectively raised their fists in solidarity with the 20-year-old Englishman, who revealed in an emotional post that he had been subjected to a torrent of racist messages — including ones calling him a “slave” and the N-word — on Instagram on Monday.

“The craziest thing is I'm not even surprised anymore,” Sessegnon wrote after making the incident public. “Disgusting.”

Hoffenheim's players show solidarity with teammate Ryan Sessegnon, who was racially abused on social media earlier this week, during Thursday’s Europa League match against Slovan Liberec. (Harry Langer/Getty Images)
Hoffenheim's players show solidarity with teammate Ryan Sessegnon, who was racially abused on social media earlier this week, during Thursday’s Europa League match against Slovan Liberec. (Harry Langer/Getty Images)

The profile of the offender was quickly removed from the site, but Sessegnon shared screen grabs of the vile messages. Both Tottenham and Hoffenheim released statements in support of the London native, who Spurs signed from Fulham last year. Sessegnon has also represented the Three Lions at the youth level since 2015.

Hoffenheim “stands for tolerance, integration and respect,” the Bundesliga club tweeted. We reject all forms of racism, discrimination and exclusion,” it added, calling the messages sent to Sessegnon “horrific.”

“We are driven by inclusion and equality for all and nobody should have to endure such repulsive abuse,” Spurs’ statement read. “Everyone at the club is with you.”

Sessegnon isn’t the first Black soccer player in one of Europe’s top leagues to suffer racist online abuse recently. Watford captain Troy Deeney, Manchester City and England national team star Raheem Sterling, and Crystal Palace striker Wilfried Zaha have all reported similar incidents since the beginning of last year.

Last month, in an interview with the Sun, Deeney accused social media companies of profiting from the racist abuse that is routinely posted on their platforms.

“If a high-profile Black player such as Raheem Sterling is experiencing racial abuse, then everyone piles on and that drives traffic, which increases their advertising and profits,” Deeney wrote. “They need to change their algorithms to reflect what are obviously racist posts — but do they even want to?”

Sessegnon has made five appearances for Hoffenheim this season across all competitions. He had gone the full 90 minutes in each of the club’s two previous Europa League games in 2020-21, both of them wins, but was an unused substitute on Thursday.

He showed his appreciation for his teammates’ gesture after the big victory:

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