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Health, Sports & Psychology

OpenLearn Live: 16th October 2015

Updated Friday 16th October 2015

Meet the first black player to represent the Slovak Republic at international level.

OpenLearn Live will be back as normal, with a full collection of interesting links between your world and learning, on Monday morning.

Today, though, we're concluding our week focusing on trailblazing Black Europeans.

So far this week, we've featured:

We're concluding the week back in Eastern Europe.

Black Europeans: Karim Guédé

The record of Slovakian football fans on racism isn't great - it hit a notable low during the 2002 Slovkia v England European Championship qualifier, where racist chanting led to a battle between local fans, English fans and the Bratislavian police. In 2007 there was a spate of ugly incidents which included the unveiling of a banner celebrating the birthday of Adolf Hitler in the stands at a SK Slovan Bratislava match.

With a background like this, being the first African-born player to represent Slovakia becomes an even greater challenge. It's a challenge to which Karim Guédé rose.

Karim Guédé warming up Creative commons image Icon Gregor under CC-BY licence under Creative-Commons license

Guédé was born in Hamburg, and has been playing in the Slovakian leagues since 2006. He took Slovakian citizenship in 2011, enabling him to qualify for the national team. He had very nearly played for Togo - his father's birthplace - during the 2006 World Cup, but an injury kept him out the team (Under FIFA rules this would have made him ineligible to play for his new home nation. We all know what sticklers FIFA are for rules.)

He made his international debut against Austria in 2011, and has been a regular member of the Slovakia squad since then, winning 14 caps.

He's since moved at a club level back to Germany, playing for FC Freiburg. He's not had the smoothest of playing careers, and has attracted some criticism from fans and commentators, but he has risen above it with a personal philosophy that there are no hopeless situations. "I know I'm not Ronaldo, who has to score in every game," he explains.

And it's not surprising that Karim should be so firm during times when his on-pitch form might be challenging. He's dealt with much worse. Three days after the Hitler incident in 2007, he was the target of vile, sustained racist abuse from the stands. To face that sort of hatred down, and to reach the national team, shows a strength of spirit that is remarkable.

See our Black History Month collection

 

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