When footballer Jimmy Durmaz was subject to a wave of racial hatred on Instagram after Sweden's loss to Germany in the 2018 FIFA World Cup, Coca-Cola Sweden joined thousands of people to unite in a show of support for their player.

Together, they took a stand against racism, with Coca-Cola Zero Sugar’s limited edition World Cup Cans playing a pivotal part in the viral #backadurmaz campaign.

What happened during the game?

With only minutes left in the match, Durmaz tackled Toni Kroos giving Germany a free kick that led to a loss for Sweden. Durmaz, a Swede of Assyrian decent, started receiving verbal abuse and threats against him and his family on Instagram.

What was the response?

There was an immediate outpouring of support for Durmaz from thousands of fans on social media with trending hashtags #backadurmaz ‘Support Durmaz’ and #viärsverige - ‘We are Sweden’, the motto of the Swedish national football team.

Coca-Cola Sweden — who had already released special-edition World Cup cans featuring six players from the national team, including Durmaz — were inspired by the actions of one fan who creatively replaced ‘zero sugar’ with ‘zero racism’ on his Coca-Cola Zero Sugar can.

Following suit, Coca-Cola Sweden released their own digital campaign, featuring ‘zero racism’ displayed across their CCZS World Cup cans.

“We added value to our existing football campaign, exchanging 'zero sugar' with 'zero racism', and published it through our social media channels,” said Frida Keane, director of public affairs and communications, Coca-Cola Sweden. “The response has been overwhelmingly positive.”

The movement gathers momentum

At the same time, a demonstration was organised by Shanga Aziz, founder of Locker Room Talk. The organisation - of which Durmaz is an ambassador — aims to change sexist and racist comments among teens in locker rooms.

“We saw all the support and love Durmaz received after the abuse and we decided to do something,” Aziz said. “Since so many people got engaged and spread #backadurmaz throughout social media, maybe all those people would also join us in a demonstration.”

Aziz received permission from the police to take a stand against the abuse and the protest was joined by thousands of people.

Thousands of people joined Aziz in taking a stand against racism.

Coca-Cola Sweden also joined in the demonstration providing Coca-Cola Zero Sugar for the attendees.

Coca-Cola Zero Sugar was available to all the protesters.

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