Photo: Twitter- Liga MX
Photo: Twitter- Liga MX

The Black referee in Mexico overcoming racism on the soccer field

After being dismissed in 2018 without any valid arguments, last week Adalid Maganda joined the Black Lives Matter protest against the racism he has suffered in…


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Sports, and especially soccer, are an arena where discrimination is constant. 

Because of this, before the start of a match between Cruz Azul and Toluca in Mexico last week, the referee, Adalid Maganda, decided to kneel for a couple seconds in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. 

The act, in addition to expressing solidarity, was also a show of protest against the discrimination he has suffered throughout his career. 

Maganda was born in Huehuetán, Guerrero, a region with one of the largest Afro-descendant communities in Mexico.  

According to INEGI, 1 out of 100 people is Afro-descendant in Mexico, and according to the National Discrimination Survey, physical appearance is the first cause of discrimination.

Adalid Maganda’s career as a referee started back in 2001 and since its beginning, he suffered discrimination because of his skin color. 

He started his career at the amateur level, officiating soccer games where the discriminatory remarks were constant. 

There are several videos on Youtube where Maganda is pointed out by fans laughing at him because of his physical appearance. 

Maganda, like anyone else in his place, expected things to change once he reached a professional level, however, to his surprise, the issues became even bigger when he started refereeing in the first division. 

The problems began back in 2017 when, already in first division, he started being assigned for fewer matches. After several months without being selected for a game, Maganda asked the commissioner for a reason. 

His plea was received with derogatory remarks. 

“What do you want, black?” he was told by the chairman of the referee commission, Arturo Brizio. 

Just a couple of months after the meeting between the two, Maganda was released from his position without a valid justification.

After criticism arose from the decision, Arturo Brizio told Milenio that Maganda’s “bad performance,” was the principal reason for his dismissal. 

However, as Maganda explained later the same year, different from other referees in the same position, "no video was shown to justify the decision."

“I felt like a foreigner in my own country,” he said in an interview with El País.

More than three years later, after refereeing juvenile games and holding a hunger strike outside the Referee Commission offices, Maganda was selected again to oversee a professional match in the game between Necaxa and Monterrey that took place in February this year.

Although his kneeling last week before the match was just a brief demonstration, Maganda's performance showed racism still present in soccer today. 

The act was a display of courage, coming from a referee who, only a couple of years ago, was unfairly dismissed from his job.


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