“Certainly, this has been a week that must lead to a lot of reflection, in addition to the tragic death of a fan, reflection is needed on racist behaviour. Football as a whole cannot be demonised; social issues also need to be reflected on. If even the parliament descends into poor behaviour as was seen in today’s newspapers, it’s difficult to think about important concepts in the right way. We’ll start again from today, temporarily putting the incidents behind us while we wait for discussions on how to defeat this phenomenon.
“Postponing the league would have been a gamble, there was unanimous consensus on this but this doesn’t mean that we can forget about what happened. We didn’t contest the sanctions applied, we will analyse how the decision was reached but we will not appeal even though the punishment hurts a large number of our fans who were definitely not involved. This has to be on the table for the future so as not to penalise supporters who behave properly.” Those were the words of Inter’s recently appointed Sport CEO Beppe Marotta, who spoke to Sky Sport ahead of yesterday’s crucial Serie A match between Empoli and the Nerazzurri.
Marotta is absolutely correct in everything that he says. The governing bodies and institutions have no choice but to act in order to fight racism, a disease which shows very little sign of letting up across Italian society in general. The former Juventus transfer guru also made a valid point when explaining how unfair it is that 65,000 fans should be punished for the shameful behaviour of a few. That said, it is understandable that the FIGC and Serie A had to make an example of Inter and their fans following the disgraceful scenes that marred an otherwise excellent match between themselves and Napoli.
Indeed, the Nerazzurri have the best attendance record in the league by quite some distance this season and it is a shame that their loyalty has been rewarded with a two-match ban thanks to the despicable antics of a minority of their so-called fellow supporters. San Siro will be completely empty for the duration of their Coppa Italia tie against Benevento, as well as their first Serie A encounter of 2019 versus Sassuolo. The Curva Nord will also remain empty for the visit of Filippo Inzaghi’s Bologna in early February as a consequence of the racist chants directed towards Partenopei centre-back Kalidou Koulibaly and anti-Neapolitan rhetoric emanating from their section of the ground.
With regard to instances of discrimination such as the one that took place on Boxing Day with the world watching, it is in everyone’s best interests to work together in order to eradicate a problem which remains all too prevalent in football. The Premier League in England and German Bundesliga have thrived for such a lengthy period of time due to the family-friendly atmosphere which is apparent in the vast majority of stadia. Italy is a long way off being able to make similar claims about Serie A. Unless racism and violence are tackled in a more proactive manner by the authorities, calcio will continue to lag behind its European rivals for a considerable number of years yet.
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