Monaco Muslim forward Keita Balde has slammed racism in the Spanish community, saying that Black lives matter only if you are a star.
“Black lives seem to matter if your name is Keita Balde, but if you’re a part-time worker in Lleida, your life doesn’t matter,” Keita, a Spanish-born Senegalese professional footballer, told El Mundo, Goal.com reported.
Lamenting that racism remains endemic in Spain, he said that the coronavirus crisis has highlighted the plight of seasonal workers to him.
Among those struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic were 150 black families who were turned away from hotels.
Keita was drawn to the problem by a video shot by filmmaker Paco Leon, who worked with seasonal worker Serigne Mamadou to show the injustices that seasonal workers have to cope with.
Therefore, the Muslim player decided to support these families, paying for their accommodation and food.
“Maybe they didn’t want to rent anything to a black boy. I felt I had to do what I could to help,” he said.
“I didn’t want to offer words, I didn’t want to speak, I wanted facts. People needed help. They were living in subhuman conditions, sleeping on the streets between cardboard boxes. They work 13 hours a day for €25 (£22/$27); and have to buy food, to find a place to sleep, they’re not stealing from anyone.
“In Spain, we need people working in the fields to collect the fruit. We need them, but if you don’t treat them well…”
In addition, Keita also paid for the accommodation of 80 key workers in Barcelona during COVID-19 pandemic.
He said he felt it was important to give back to the community since he was a young player with the Camp Nou outfit.
“I’ve financed a mosque and a school in Senegal, I’ve helped with the pandemic in Europe… I like to be like this,” he said.
“I’ve been like this since I was young. I’m a boy at heart and I like to share.
“I gave out the clothes and boots that Barcelona and Nike gave me in the neighbourhood square.
“Money is one of the problems of this world. It classifies people. If you have a bill you are someone. If you don’t have it, you are nobody.
“We live in a polluted society in that regard. The person’s real value is lost. It’s sad.
“I was happy before, when I had no money. And I am happy now.”
There are many Muslim player known and loved for such charitable works.
In November 2019, Nigerian captain Ahmed Musa announced plans to sponsor 100 students at a university in the Nigerian city of Kano.
The Super Eagles superstar was reportedly involved in various charitable projects including the construction of a sports center in Kano.
Mali Muslim football legend Frederic Kanoute also raised funds to help build Seville first purpose-built mosque in 700 years.
Likewise, Senegalese forward Sadio Mane donated £200,000 to build a school, mosque, and hospital in his hometown village in Senegal.