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Feb 22, 2013

Elana learnt to live with racism in France

Lille goalkeeper Steeve Elana has said he would "spend all [his] time in police stations" if he complained every time he was racially abused at football matches in France.

Elana, 32, started his football career as a youngster in his native Paris suburbs before passing through Marseille, Caen and Brest en route to arriving in Lille last summer.

Wherever he has played, however, the colour of his skin has always been an issue for opposing fans.

"I don't want to stigmatise one set of fans more than another," Elana said. "If I had to make a police complaint for racial abuse, I could do it anywhere in France, and I would spend all my time in police stations. It's been like that since I was 15. You learn to live with it. When the match starts, I don't hear what's being said."

Racist chants are a relatively frequent occurrence at games in France. This season, supporters at Bastia racially abused members of the Marseille squad as they climbed back onto their team coach following a league game in December.

Elana will travel to Corsica with Lille for Saturday's game against Ajaccio, and certainly does not expect a warm welcome if his past experiences are anything to go by.

"In Ligue 2 at Bastia, I remember some funny insults that ended up making me laugh," he said. "There are always a lot of people behind my goal, you have to turn that pressure into motivation. There's always something happening, and there are some things I would have preferred not to hear while warming up, but I prefer not to aggravate the situation."

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