Barcelona star Neymar was the target of racist chants during the Espanyol vs. Barcelona Catalan derby on Saturday, while team-mate Lionel Messi was also taunted during the match for his role in an ongoing tax-evasion investigation.
La Liga blogger Rafael Hernandez was one of the first to notice the racist chants aimed at Neymar:
Espanyol fans with racist chants towards Neymar, disgraceful.— Rafael Hernández (@RafaelH117) January 2, 2016
Former Barcelona presidential candidate Toni Freixa also weighed in on the matter, taking to Twitter to express his hopes the official would make a note in his report, per AS. The newspaper also reports manager Luis Enrique received abuse as well.
Enrique refused to weigh in on the matter after the 0-0 draw, per football writer Richard Martin:
Luis Enrique asked about racist chants towards Neymar and goes silent. Then says "I don't want to talk anything that isn't the game"— Richard Martin (@rich9908) January 2, 2016
The Catalan derby between Espanyol and Barcelona has a tendency to get ugly at times, and just last year, Espanyol faced a hefty fine for similar abuse of Neymar and Dani Alves, per Reuters (for the Guardian).
Meanwhile, Messi was the target of mockery as well, via Martin:
Espanyol fans were chanting a fun song about Messi. "Hacienda somos todos, Messi paga ya". Basically "Messi, pay your bloody taxes".— Richard Martin (@rich9908) January 2, 2016
Messi has been the subject of a lengthy tax-evasion investigation that has been widely publicised, per the BBC.
Both Messi and Neymar struggled on Saturday as Espanyol held the Blaugrana scoreless in their first match of 2016. The physical contest turned ugly late, and Neymar was given a yellow card for a hard foul on Pape Kouly Diop.