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    Americans Abroad

    Russell is victim of racial attack during game in Norway.

    Robbie Russell
    Robbie Russell was the victim of a racially-motivated attack during a game in Norway,
    -- FC Sogndal web site photo --
    OSLO, Norway (Monday, May 10, 2004) -- For the second time in a month, a young American playing in Europe has been subjected to blatant racism.

    Robbie Russell, 24, an African-American who plays for FC Sogndal of Norway was the victim of racial taunts and spit on by a woman yesterday at his club's 3-1 home victory over Brann.

    "I've experienced racism, but never anything like this," said Russell, a native of Amherst, Mass., who played collegiately for Duke, told NRK, the state radio network.

    Russell told NRK four or five Brann fans grabbed his jersey through the fence as he retrieved a ball that had gone out of touch about 27 minutes into the game. "A woman spit in my face," he said. "The entire time a group of supporters were yelling racist things at me. . . Nothing entitles them to do that sort of thing to you."

    Norway's VG reported he also had coins, cigarette butts, bottles and other items thrown at him throughout the first half.

    Robbie Russell
    Robbie Russell (right) played for four years at Duke University.
    -- Duke photo --

    Another publication, Aftenposten reported several Brann players, including the captain, came into the Sogndal locker at halftime to apologize. The captain did so again at the conclusion of the game.

    Russell, who was not injured, did not file a police complaint, saying he would let team and league officials handle the situation. Norwegian media voiced its support of Russell and condemned his attackers.

    Brann, based in Bergen, said it would identify the culprits from television footage and would ban the offenders Brann events.

    "We condemn all forms of racism in Norwegian soccer," Karen Espelund, secretary-general of the Norwegian Soccer Federation, told Associated Press. "Such behavior goes against everything we stand for."

    Russell, a defender, joined Sogndal in May 2001. The team is 1-3-1 in the Tippeligaen, Norway's top division, this season.

    Russell, who played collegiately at Duke from 1997-2000, has never played for the United States men, but participated in a three-week national-team camp in Carson, Calif. in December.

    At Duke, Russell started 73 of the 75 matches he played, scoring 12 goals and adding 21 assists, earning all-Atlantic Coast Conference second-team recognition his first two years and making the first team as a junior and senior. He was drafted in the second round, 22nd overall, by Major League Soccer's Los Angeles Galaxy, on February 6, 2001.

    On April 6, Jeremiah White, 22, an African-American playing for OFK Beograd in Belgrade, Serbia and Montanegro, was accosted with two black friends by a group hurling racial epithets. After a brief physical encounter, White was able to escape a mob by running to safety.

    White immediately requested and received a release from his contract and returned to his home in the Philadelphia area. He hopes to play in Europe next season.

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