For my first write up about Italian football I thought to myself, what is the biggest story at the moment within the ranks of Italian football, a few things ran through my head, Juventus beginning to open up a considerable lead within the league, match fixing, even the fact that Italian football seems to be back on the rise, but I could not hide one pressing issue from my mind; which is the very big issue of racism in Italian Football.
Racism is nothing new in Italian football, and there have been several high profile incidents in the past few years. The most recent was highlighted in the UEFA cup match against Spurs when Inter Milan fans threw plastic bananas onto the pitch at Adebayor and Aaron Lennon. Last month, after the Milan derby Inter were fined the equivalent of £43,000 for racist chants and waving inflatable bananas at former player Mario Balotelli.
Inter are not the only club guilty of this with Italian teams being ordered to play games behind closed doors becoming a regular occurrence.
I am a big lover of Serie A but when they promise to actually tackle this totally unacceptable issue they always seem to come up somewhat short. What they actually did was slightly justify it by also handing out an £8,600 fine to Mario Balotelli for what was described as an “insulting gesture” towards the Inter fans – when in fact all he did was raise his finger to his lips when the fans chanted racist abuse and made monkey gestures towards him. If this is what the Italian football association feels is an adequate deterrent to tackle this very unacceptable issue then they are sadly mistaken.
The actions they are taking are clearly not enough, I don’t doubt for one minute that the clubs themselves are not encouraging racism in the stands so where does this hatred come from? The only logical thinking is that the fans are encouraged by another source, and that source can only be pointed towards Italian culture.
While I am certainly not tarring all Italians with the same brush, it would seem that Italians are a proud nation and it is a well known fact that multiculturalism barely exists in Italy; they are proud that they are primarily mono-cultural and mono-religious and immigration is a key winner in Italian politics. This is as far as I want to go when it comes to politics, this is after all an article about tackling racism in Italian football; but I do firmly believe that Italian club supporters are a reflection of Italian society and that in order for this to be kicked out of football it also needs to be addressed by Italian culture.
Let’s hope Serie A continues to be in the European headlines but for the right reasons.