Thai soccer player Sasalak Hyprakorn, who was the victim of racial abuse on social media by K League 1 Ulsan Hyundai players, has spoken out for the first time.
Sasalak said on social media on Dec. 12, “I’ve been criticized a lot to get to this point, but I don’t care about those people. I know that there are many people who love me and are waiting for me. Only they know what I am fighting for and are proud of me,” he wrote.
“I’ve never said in my own words that I’ve done a good job, but I’m proud of myself for fighting until today,” he continued, adding, “Thank you to me and my fans. This is enough for me,” he wrote.
Sasalak did not directly address the racist 안전놀이터 incident, but he did include a photo of his family cheering him on in a Jeonbuk jersey in his hometown, suggesting that the message was in reference to the incident.
Sasalak is a Thai national team defender who played for Jeonbuk Hyundai in 2021. He played two regular season games for the club before returning to the Thai league six months later.
Ulsan players recently came under fire for making racist comments about Sasalak during a conversation on social media.
On the Instagram account of Ulsan’s Lee Myung-jae, teammates Lee Kyu-sung, Jeong Seung-hyun, and Park Yong-woo commented on the conversation and mentioned Sasalak.
“Southeast Asian quarter,” “Sasalak form is crazy,” and other comments were directed at Lee Myung-jae.
It appears that they were referring to Sasalak, who is from Thailand, to make fun of Myung-jae’s dark skin color.
Lee deleted the post, and Park Yong-woo apologized, saying, “I apologize to Sasalak and all the fans and people around him who may have been hurt by my flippant remarks referring to my teammate’s playing style and appearance.”
Ulsan also issued an apology and promised to take measures to prevent the incident from happening again, including holding its own punishment committee and training for all members of the club.
The KFA will decide whether to hold a punishment committee after reviewing Ulsan’s submission.