That’s the question the French footballing authorities must answer as they look at video evidence of the incident in question.
The incident occured during the Ligue 1 game between Lyon and Rennes.
Lyon striker Milan Baros was shown “pinching his nose and waving his hand at Rennes mdifielder Stephen M’Bia as if he was repelling an offensive odour”.
The back story, that Baros doesn’t know French that well (he’s Czech and on loan from English Premiership side Aston Villa and came in this January) and that M’Bia is Cameroon-born, add to the problems.
M’Bia said after the game that he was “deeply hurt by the gesture”, which I suppose anyone would be if they were being told that they stank up the place. Considering that it happened during a football game where players are supposed to run several thousand meters during 90 minutes and as a result sweat profusely, to be singled out for stinking must really hurt.
Lyon, Baros’ club, felt it necessary to make a statement in response to media criticism:
“Milan Baros merely wanted to tell (M’Bia) something he didn’t know how to say in French: ‘leave me alone and give me breathing space’.
Milan Baros has always denounced any form of racism, in sport and in life in general. Olympique Lyon share Baros’s commitment against racism.”
So, I guess this boils down to the initial question:
Is it racist to tell someone that they smell?