Italy Suffering from Racism ‘Epidemic,’ Says Head of European Football Watchdog | Bleacher Report
MARCO BERTORELLO/Getty Images
Italy has fallen subject to a racism epidemic that was reignited when Juventus striker Moise Kean was subject to abuse in their 2-0 win at Cagliari, the chief of European football’s anti-racism watchdog Football Against Racism in Europe (FARE) has said.
Piara Powar is the executive director of FARE, who gave Martyn Herman of Reuters his outlook on the landscape in Italy at a recent conference organised by UEFA, the Football Association and FARE:
“Italy in particular has got a very big problem, I would go as far as to say it’s an epidemic. I think part of the problem in Italy is the rhetoric of the right-wing government. It’s anti-migrant and anti-African and clearly that will always feed into stadiums.
“Then you have a football association that doesn’t know how to respond, given the government’s position, and historically hasn’t responded very well.”
Kean, 19, was racially abused and taunted by host fans before he scored a second for Juve, celebrating in front of their supporters with a cold stare before being pulled away by some of his team-mates:
The “buu” chant that rang from Cagliari’s fans while Kean stood defiant is often considered a racist taunt in Italy, per Herman.
The furore intensified after Juve defender Leonardo Bonucci said after the game that the blame was “50-50” between his teenage team-mate and the home fans.
Asked for his take on remarks made by Bonucci, 31, and manager Massimiliano Allegri, who each suggested Kean was partly at fault for the incident, Powar said: “That was the most shocking part about it.”
Manchester City forward Raheem Sterling posted on Instagram in December taking a stand against how some media outlets skewed reports depending on the race of their subject. Sterling, 24, also addressed the alleged racist taunts aimed at him during a meeting with Chelsea shortly before.
He was among the first to show his support for Kean following Bonucci’s reaction:
Serie A is the one of Europe’s top five leagues in which racist incidents seem to occur most frequently. Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly was subject to racist chants during a 1-0 defeat to Inter Milan in December, during which his manager, Carlo Ancelotti, asked three times for the match to be suspended due to the jeers.
Former Manchester United and Bianconeri full-back Patrice Evra also posted a tribute to Kean, as did Juve attacker Eniola Aluko:
Patrice Evra @Evra
This is not acceptable in football or anywhere in the world. Well done to @moisekean for standing up to them and showing them who is boss. The world would be a better place if we all shared more love no matter what. #ILoveThisGame 🙏 https://t.co/4ZS43n7f6w
Eniola Aluko @EniAlu
I choose to support my Juve counterpart not blame him. The good news is the ignorant idiots of Cagliari are going absolutely nowhere in life, whilst Kean is a rising superstar and Matuidi a world cup winner. I also focus on that.
Racist Cagliari idiots 0 https://t.co/KcLSb17HhY
Herman wrote that while neither Juventus nor Cagliari have issued a response to the matter as of yet, Serie A’s disciplinary committee is likely to make a decision on the matter on Friday.
Mino Raiola, Kean’s representative, appeared to rail against those among Juve’s staff who didn’t fully back Kean, per BBC Sport’s Simon Stone:
Simon Stone @sistoney67
1/2 Moise Kean’s agent Mino Raiola: “Nobody should justify racism in any way. Racism is equal as ignorance. There is no excuse. Italy should be leading on this given how many millions of Italians live abroad. You cannot be racist + Italian. You cannot be human + racist…
Simon Stone @sistoney67
2/2. Mino Raiola: “If in team/club there are people not willing to fight racism they should be leaving. Sport has important role in Italian society. There is racism amongst Italians themselves. But again, racism is, by definition, ignorance + ignorant people difficult to talk to”
Powar also referred to stadiums in other European countries that have shown a rising tolerance for banners depicting right-wing ideologies, highlighting the need to stop similar concerns before they escalate:
“In Hungary, for example, where the prime minister says he wants a white Christian country, we have seen banners inside stadiums against the so-called ‘Islamification’ of Europe.
“In Poland where the party is very conservative and wants to enforce ‘traditional values’ there have been in the last three weeks huge banners in stadiums abusing the LGBT community.
“These banners are 150 metres wide so there is an organised campaign and many clubs are turning a blind eye or a deaf ear. This is what happens when you have a political environment that creates hatred.”
Kean has scored four goals in his last four Serie A appearances and has dealt with attacks in a mature manner thus far, but Italian football’s less hospitable environment remains in need of change.