Basketball player

American basketball player Sonny Weems racially assaulted by fans in China

In a video circulating on social media, fans can be heard repeatedly shouting the “N” word and “out of China” at Weems, 35, who plays for the Guangdong Southern Tigers in the Chinese Basketball Association.

The incident happened after the Southern Tigers’ game against the Liaoning Flying Leopards last Thursday. During the match, a fight broke out between Weems and Chinese player Han Dejun, which resulted in both players being ejected.

In the video, Weems is seen exiting the team bus with the rest of the team when a crowd of fans can be heard shouting the racial slurs. Weems seems to ignore the crowd.

In a statement on Friday, the ABC said it had a “zero tolerance attitude towards any discriminatory words or acts” and, in an open letter to fans, asked them not to engage in “uncivilized behavior”. and “vulgar words”.

“Whether on or off the pitch, fans should watch the game in a civilized manner, respect each other, do nothing that could harm the reputation of the team,” the letter read.

Both teams also condemned the behavior of the fans, with the Flying Leopards saying the words seriously hurt the Guangdong team and damaged the image of the league and the fans.

“Respect for the opponent is a basic quality that every player should have, and it is also a basic requirement for a qualified fan,” the team statement read.

CNN contacted Weems but did not immediately receive a response. He also did not publicly comment on the abuse on his Twitter or Instagram accounts, but posted emojis of hearts in a rainbow of different colors on Weibo.

Taiwanese-American player Jeremy Lin offered his support to Weems via social media, writing on his Weibo page: “The abuse Weems received was truly disrespectful, this word carried so much pain, injustice and hate that I couldn’t put into words.”

On Weems’ Weibo profile, fans also left messages of support. “Peace and Love. We will always be behind you,” one said, while another wrote, “I’m sorry. Are you okay now? We always have your back and stay here with you.”

Weems was selected by the Chicago Bulls in the 2008 draft, then spent several seasons in the NBA during his busy career. He joined the Southern Tigers in 2018 and helped them win the last three titles.

The racism incident comes three weeks before China is to host the Winter Olympics In Beijing.

On Monday, former NBA star Yao Ming, now president of the CBA, spoke about the importance of sport building bridges between communities.

“There’s bound to be traffic on the bridges, so sometimes we see collisions,” he told reporters. “It may take some time to resolve some issues… But we want to keep the bridges intact.”