The HUFS World Cup match between the College of Chinese’s Feihu Football Team and Football Club Global Student Association (FC GSA) took place on April 3, 2019. The match ended in a loss for FC GSA. Following the match, there was strife between the referees and the players of FC GSA. On April 5, 2019, the Foreign Studies Broadcast System (FBS) released a broadcast report covering the testimony of the head referee of the match in question. In the video, the head referee revealed that he witnessed racist and rude behavior of the FC GSA players and fans and that he himself felt humiliated. FBS also included a short quote from the president of the Global Student Association (GSA) in their report. On April 11, 2019, FBS followed up with a broadcast interview of the head of FC GSA and the head of the Office of International Affairs.
The Argus interviewed the GSA and FC GSA to introduce to readers who they are and further shed light upon their stances.
The Argus: What is GSA?
April: GSA is the Global Student Association, which is for regular international students, unlike the International Student Organization (ISO), which is for exchange students.
The Argus: Is FC GSA a part of GSA?
April: We are two separate groups. Though associated, FC GSA has their own events that the GSA has no control over.
The Argus: Could you share your stance about the incident?
Fernando: As a team, we had a long conversation about the incident and as co-captain of FC GSA, I am speaking on the behalf of the team.
When the game ended, many of us were upset because of the result itself. That resulted in misbehavior like cursing and screaming. With regards to this, we want to make it clear that we were never trying to curse at the referee, but rather, it was mainly for us, it applies for the people supporting us because that is how soccer goes. We cursed because we played soccer passionately. It was never towards the College of Chinese or the referee.
After the game, we went to the center to shake hands. We went straight to the referee, not screaming or cursing. But the referee said that we were misbehaving throughout the game and told us that he would make sure that we would not participate in the next HUFS World Cup. FC GSA found it discriminatory.
The Argus: Did the FC GSA apologize to the Chinese Department?
Fernando: After the game, Valentim Aurelio Dias Jamba, the captain of FC GSA, and I went straight to the College of Chinese side to apologize for the misbehavior and screaming, but not for racism which we are being accused of.
The Argus: Was there racism?
Fernando: The players were never racist. The players who misbehaved on the pitch are going to be punished within our team, but we cannot apologize for what we do not represent.
The Argus: Are you aware that the head referee presented a testimony?
Fernando: Yes, we had it translated and read the whole thing. It is true that we behaved inappropriately at the pitch, and we are really sorry. We apologized for our bad behavior in terms of cursing. However, I think there is a misunderstanding about what happened in terms of what the referee perceived. The referee said that we were making monkey sounds. We did scream but it was not a racist thing. We screamed because we were passionate. We do not consider it to be a racial gesture. One of the complaints I heard was that we said “Ni Hao.” They are the College of Chinese, so when we shook hands with them before the game, we said “Ni Hao.” This action is not discriminatory at all. To us, it is just like others coming to us and speaking to us in English. Again, in terms of racism, we cannot apologize because we were not racist.
The Argus: In the testimony, the head referee said that he has been judging the soccer game for two years. Was there anything particularly different this year that made the referee upset or partial?
Fernando: I cannot think of any reason. Being a referee is not easy, especially playing with international players since we are very passionate about soccer. I think Koreans, in that regard, are very disciplined and well organized when playing soccer. They do not really scream and are very well-behaved. The referee should not perceive this difference as a racial thing, but should see it as a cultural misunderstanding.
The Argus: Was the head referee’s testimony and the FBS report after the apologies?
Fernando: Yes. I apologized right after the game was over, and I talked to the referee. The referee was angry but I was upset too, but since I knew he was the referee of the match, I went straight to him knowing our behavior was not acceptable. Dias went straight to the College of Chinese and to the referee to apologize.
The Argus: How did the FBS approach GSA?
April: The FBS asked for a statement. FC GSA told us that they didn’t perform acts of racism and that is what we told FBS because we believe FC GSA and we support them.
Byeol: Also, we were informed by the FBS in the evening the day before the article was published. We felt this was not a reasonable period of time.
April: Yes, they did not talk to FC GSA. They only talked to GSA, so when the article came out, FC GSA was unaware of it.
Ultimately, all sides involved in this incident share the opinion that racial discrimination is unacceptable at HUFS. The misunderstandings harbored negative emotions for both sides. The stance of FC GSA is clear-there was a cultural misunderstanding. This perhaps led the referee to think that he was subject to racism. The GSA and FC GSA do not stand for racism, and besides this, FC GSA is apologetic of misbehavior on the pitch. All parties acted in the heat of the moment, but at heart, share common values.
By Jang Soo-hyun and Park Chang-hwan
Staff Reporters of Global & National and Theory & Critique Sections