Jimmy Durmaz, a symbol of Sweden's unity


May 7, 2018
Jimmy Durmaz has played just 16 minutes at the World Cup, but in that brief time he has become an emblem of the current Sweden side, as both a symbol of anti-racism and a tight-knit squad.
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In one of the most striking images of the tournament Durmaz, his beard like that of an Orthodox priest and dressed in a team tracksuit, read a statement from his mobile phone in front of the media to call for an end to racist attacks towards him and his family.

Standing right behind the 29-year-old were his Swedish team-mates, who gave the Toulouse winger a compelling round of applause.

His only 'sin' had been committing a foul from which Germany scored a last-gasp winner in the group stage, but one that didn't prevent Sweden from reaching the quarter-finals, where they face England on Saturday in Samara.

Messages of racial hatred and even death threats poured in on social media, targeting Durmaz, born in Sweden to Assyrian parents who emigrated from Turkey.

"I am Swedish and am proud to play for Sweden. I will never let any racists destroy that pride," Durmaz said during his speech at the team's base camp in Gelendzhik.

The insults flooded his Instagram account.

He was called a "blatte" (a pejorative word for a dark-skinned foreigner), with other slurs ranging from "Arab devil" to "terrorist" and "Taliban".

Elias Durmaz, Jimmy's 18-year-old younger brother, also spoke of his "sadness" in front of the cameras.

Sweden's Sports Minister Annika Strandhall wore a Durmaz jersey in parliament last week in another act of solidarity.

While Durmaz accepted he could be "criticised for my performance", he said a "line was crossed" after his family and his children were also subjected to the abuse.