Only players themselves know what happened during and, especially, after the first match of the 2021/22 Italian Men’s Volleyball Championship semi-finals between Sir Safety Conad Perugia and Leo Shoes PerkinElmer Modena. However, one of them was accused of racism by rivals.
The mayhem on the court at the conclusion of Game 1 of the 2021/22 SuperLega Credem Banca playoff semis between Perugia and Modena is still in the spotlight of the Italian volleyball public and media. The physical reaction in anger of Modena’s Yoandy Leal at the end of the match not only led to the 4-match disqualification of the Cuban-Brazilian, but it has opened some new issues – of racism.
The night after the match, Earvin Ngapeth’s Instagram profile had a post (deleted in the meantime) against Dragan Travica, with allegations of racism of the Perugia setter on the account of Leal. Some Brazilian websites joined the ‘hunt’ on Travica. The Perugia player had firmly denied the accusations.
“We need to be very lucid right now and on a very delicate issue like racism. This whole story is not true! There were the usual skirmishes on the court during the match between me and Leal. We got caught, we called ourselves a jerk, nothing more and different came out neither from my mouth nor from his. At the end of the game he came towards me, I thought he wanted to clarify and instead, there was the episode of ‘football’ that everyone saw. Then came this made-up story of the racist slur. Since that moment they’ve been writing to me every minute that I’m a racist, that I have to go to jail, and that I have to die… absurd stuff!” the former Italy National Team setter posted.
“I’m absolutely not a racist and I don’t even have to justify something I’ve never done. I’ve never told Leal absolutely anything that could refer to racism, it doesn’t really belong to my world and I want to emphasize it because this thing has been insinuating for two days to turn the omelette, to discredit my name, to justify football and everything else. It’s a very bad thing, the term racism, such a delicate issue, can’t be used today in a bogus way. If it’s not clarified how the story deserves, exposed in a false and shameful way, I’ll take legal action. The field is one thing, racism and violence are delicate and dangerous things from which I’m far away,” Travica added.
This is one of the moments in which Travica and Leal verbally confronted during the match in question…