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4th October 2019

Opinion: Racism still rife in Italy

Iwan Hopkins takes a look at racism in Italian football, following Romelu Lukaku’s suggestion that positive action is being taken
Opinion: Racism still rife in Italy
Photo: Scudo 2009 @Flickr

Football is known as the beautiful game for a reason. It is a sport which, when played well, can be incredibly aesthetically pleasing and is passionately supported all around the world. However, it does have an ugly side – and unfortunately, even in 2019, this still remains a prevalent issue.

While the story has disappeared from many of the back pages after its spike in interest at the beginning of the season, it is still proving problematic across all of Europe.

Despite Romelu Lukaku’s claims that Serie A is “taking action” against the widespread issue in the Italian game, the reality is far from this.

Italy, amongst certain other European countries, have a history full of controversy, both on and off the pitch.

Following the incident at Cagliari – which saw Lukaku racially abused as he stepped up to take a penalty for Internazionale – many believed that the Italian FA’s subsequent investigation would lead to action being taken.

However, it appears its controversial end is not receiving much media attention.

Cagliari escaped any sanctions over racist behaviour, as the League’s disciplinary tribunal came to the conclusion that the incidents “were not interpreted by the stewards nor federation delegates as discriminatory.”

Comically, two weeks later, the Italian side did find themselves picking up a punishment, for a far less serious event. Cagliari were fined €5,000 (£5,530) after their fans threw plastic bottles onto the pitch during a win over Parma.

This is not a one-off affair for Cagliari. The side, based on the small island of Sardinia, just off Italy’s western coast, has also been investigated for almost identical events involving Moise Kean (while at Juventus) and Sulley Muntari (while at Pescara).

There was “insufficient evidence” that the jeering was racist on every occasion.

It begs the question, therefore, what is going on in Italy? A country where football is worshipped, yet, so-called ‘fans’ still resort to disgusting abuse when faced by a black opposition player.

More action needs to be taken, perhaps beginning with a change of the definition under Italian law regarding what constitutes as “racist”. It is an issue which is seemingly driving a great number of talented footballers away from the country.

Moise Kean left Juventus to join Everton in a shock transfer during the summer. However, it is really no wonder why he decided to make the switch. The teenager has gone from being racially abused in Italy, to receiving lots of support from his new club.

The Evertonians even displayed a banner in his honour during their game against Manchester City. Its message was simple, but very effective:

No al razzismo. No to racism.

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