Fab praises City fans ahead of derby
FABIAN Wilnis has praised Norwich City fans ahead of this Sunday's vital East Anglian derby.But Ipswich fans need not worry, the Surinam-born defender is still determined to beat the Canaries at Carrow Road, and remains a true Blue.
By Derek Davis
FABIAN Wilnis has praised Norwich City fans ahead of this Sunday's vital East Anglian derby.
But Ipswich fans need not worry, the Surinam-born defender is still determined to beat the Canaries at Carrow Road, and remains a true Blue.
Wilnis was speaking out at a Show Racism The Red Card workshop at Portman Road when he gave a rare word of appreciation for City supporters for not stepping over the line when it comes to hurling abuse at the Ipswich star.
Wilnis became a hate figure for City fans, and cemented his place in Town folklore, after making scathing comments about Norwich's chances of surviving in the Premiership following their 3-1 win over Ipswich in March, 2004, which preceded promotion.
He warned in a post-match interview to the EADT that City would be instantly relegated unless they made about 15 changes and his words were to prove prophetic.
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Wilnis has suffered abuse from Norwich fans even since but admits they have never crossed the line with their comments.
He said: “I have had loads of grief at Norwich but it has never been racist and I have to applaud them for that.
“It is the normal banter between Ipswich and Norwich and that's fine.
“If it is 'Wilnis you are rubbish', or 'You are horrible', comments to put you off your game, then I can deal with that but any comment about my race or the colour of my skin then it is unacceptable and I will report it to the referee and then look for the FA to deal with it.
“It has happened at other clubs, although not really in England or Holland but mainly in eastern Europe.” Wilnis admits he can handle the brickbats thrown his way but appreciates it can take some getting used to.
He said: “It always starts with little comments and it is usually meant as a way to put you off your game.
“I have been in the game such a long time it doesn't really affect me any more but for the young guys like Danny Haynes, Liam Trotter and Jaime Peters, for example, it can knock them back quite a bit.”
The 37-year-old draws on his experience to help him but insists he will not tolerate any form of racism and will always speak out.
He said: “You have to know when to draw the line between making a joke or it being a racist comment. I have a zero tolerance towards anything like that and no jokes about race whatsoever are acceptable.
“If anyone made a comment about any of our black guys, or other players if it were racist, then I won't accept it.
“As a senior player I will stamp down on it in the dressing room but also it is not acceptable in society. There is no place for any form of remark against someone's race, religion or creed or culture.
“It has been tackled in England and Holland but there are places like when we played at Sartid (in Serbia), that need a lot more work for it to be sorted out.
“My message to youngsters, is that if you hear anything that makes you uncomfortable then report it.”
Wilnis is looking to keep his place in the Blues defence for the trip to Carrow Road and will be hoping to repeat his exploits of March 2003 when he fired in the opener in a 2-0 Blues win.