Accusations from Royston Drenthe of racial abuse directed his way by the world best player, Lionel Messi have been rejected by Barcelona. The Catalan giants have quickly leapt to the defence of their man after Drenthe’s comments this week.

Drenthe is currently on loan at Everton but is currently side lined for his own disciplinary problems. He made the accusations against Messi in an interview with the Dutch magazine, Helden. He claimed he was taunted by Messi in their El Classico meetings in La Liga, with the Argentine calling him “negro” on a number of occasions.
Barca have responded to the comments calling them “well wide of the mark”.

Barca pride themselves on playing the game in “the right way” and having the correct attitude when it comes to football. A Barca spokesman reiterated these beliefs in their statement rebuking Drenthe’s claims.

“The player has always shown a maximum respect and sportsmanship towards his rivals, something which has been recognised by his fellow professionals many times, and we are sure that any accusations to the contrary are well wide of the mark. His behaviour throughout his career has always been exemplary.”

The claims by Drenthe come soon after and seem very similar to those levelled by Patrice Evra against another South American, Luis Suarez. Suarez was fined £40,000 and banned for eight matches after being found guilty of using abusive and/or insulting words and/or behaviour when Manchester United and Liverpool met earlier this season.

Since being found guilty Suarez and Liverpool have had their reputations severely damaged, something Messi and Barca will be keen to avoid. It will raise further questions about the education of foreign stars in the European game. The term “negro” or “negrito” is an acceptable one in South America yet understandably is not taken well in the European game. The accusations made against Messi may or may not be founded but either way it seems there is the beginnings of a real cultural problem in football.