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Sweden’s Durmaz blasts online racial abuse after World Cup loss

Sweden midfielder Jimmy Durmaz trains in Gelendzhik, Russia, during the 2018 World Cup © AFP / Jonathan NACKSTRAND

Gelendzhik, Russian Federation, Jun 24 – Sweden’s Jimmy Durmaz has denounced as “unacceptable” messages of racial hatred and even death threats after he gave away the foul that led to Toni Kroos’s late winner for Germany at the World Cup.

Abusive comments on the 29-year-old substitute’s Instagram account poured in after Germany won 2-1 in the 95th minute in Sochi on Saturday.

“I can be criticised for my performance… but there is a line, and that line was crossed yesterday,” Durmaz said in a statement he read out to reporters at the team’s Black Sea coast base in Gelendzhik on Sunday.

“When you threaten me, when you call me a “blatte” (a pejorative word for a dark-skinned foreigner), an ‘Arab devil’, a ‘terrorist’, ‘Taliban’, then you have gone far beyond the limit,” he said.

Durmaz, who was born in Sweden to Assyrian parents who emigrated from Turkey, said his family and children had also been threatened.

“Who the hell does such things? It is completely unacceptable,” he said.

“I am Swedish and am proud to play for Sweden. I will never let any racists destroy that pride. We must disregard all forms of racism”.

Sweden coach Janne Andersson said the squad “stand 100 percent” behind Durmaz.

“No shadow falls over Jimmy, there is nothing bad to say about him. People can’t blame one person. You win as a team and you lose as a team,” midfielder Albin Ekdal told the daily Aftonbladet.

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“He ran and fought the entire time. It’s bad luck. It’s completely idiotic to give him hatred because of it,” striker John Guidetti said.

The abuse was met with outrage from observers and Durmaz’s fans.

“Crazy people openly raging with racism against Jimmy Durmaz after a football match unfortunately says too much about the world we live in,” Swedish sports journalist Patrick Ekwall tweeted on Sunday.

“Don’t let them get to you! You’re amazing,” a fan wrote on Durmaz’s Instagram account

Sweden face Mexico in Yekaterinburg on Wednesday, with the chance to progress to the knockout rounds.

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