The racists are quaking in their boots
A major thumbsdown to the Italian soccer federation for their weak handling of racism in the game. Or more accurately, their non-handling of racism in the game.
England has long had a terrible reputation for racism and hooliganism at their soccer grounds. But this black eye is a holdover from the 1970s ad 1980s when they truly deserved it. While English soccer authorities have made great strides in the last 15 years against the expression of hatred and violence at matches, other European countries have refused to tackle this issue. Racism and hooliganism has diminished in England partly due to efforts by the clubs and partly due to the gentrification of the once strongly working class game. But those illnesses still plague the game not only in Eastern Europe, but in other parts of supposedly sophisticated Western Europe.
Though the problem of racism and violence may not be any worse in Italy than in parts of Eastern Europe, it's more problematic since the Italian Serie A is one of the best and most high profile leagues in the world. As such, it draws a lot of black players, from Africa and Brazil.
A recent match between Messina and Inter Milan saw some Inter 'supporters' (henceforth known as morons) make monkey noises and other revolting chants at Messina's Ivorian defender Marc Zoro.
Zoro was so incensed by the lunacy that he tried to walk off the field in protest... though I'm not sure why he thought this would've displeased the morons. He was persuaded to remain on the pitch by a couple of Inter's black players, Obafemi Martins and Adriano. (That Inter itself has several black players was, not surprisingly, of no conesquence to the morons)
"They were very kind" said Zoro afterwards. "Martins and Adriano both said that this kind of thing happens to them a lot too, and not to let it provoke me. But they seemed more concerned with getting the game restarted and avoiding any complications than anything else. I came back on to avoid causing them problems."
I realize that fans will say a lot of things to unnerve opposing players. That's perfectly fine. But there has to be a line of decency that must not be crossed. Chanting monkey noises at black players is on the wrong side of that line.
The Italian soccer federation reacted as it usually does when faced with a serious issue: with shameful weakness.
The federation ordered that the next round of league matches be delayed by five minutes so that players could protest the treatment of Zoro.
So the morons will have five extra minutes to sing racist songs and make monkey noises. I'm sure that'll teach a lesson!