Coaches in Italy still refuse to believe in fans racist chants after Balotelli almost walks off

The problem with racism in Serie A reached new heights at the weekend when Verona took on Brescia. Mario Balotelli who has been repeatedly subjected to racist taunts much of his whole career when in Italy was again targeted.

The incident happened in the second half when Balotelli went over to take a corner and the section of Verona fans started doing the monkey chant. Rightly disgusted Balotelli kicked the ball in the air and then threatened to walk off the pitch. After a few minutes of whistles and jeers and with both sets of players from both sides convincing him to stay on he did just that.

But racism is going nowhere in Italy, in fact it is getting worse and this was highlighted by both coaches after the game. Where in England you would expect a manager in the post match press conference to speak up against racism, in Italy it feels that coaches do not see the problem.

The monkey chants were clearly audible and yet Verona coach Ivan Juric said: “I’m not afraid to say, today there was nothing. Lots of whistling and teasing against a great player, but there was nothing else. I have also taken so many insults over the years, I know what it means, but today there has been nothing. On the reason of the reaction you have to ask him. When there is racism, I will have no problem saying so because it sucks, even if it comes from my fans. But today I heard nothing. We don’t create a case where there isn’t, it would be a lie.”

How Juric had the gall to say such words is up to him, but what it did was underline that in Italy they do not hear or see a problem such as racism in football. His statement like many others before him seemed to want to make light of the incident and sweep it under the carpet. Perhaps and hopefully in the coming days with video evidence he will change his mind.

It is worrying when a situation is obvious and the coaches and presidents of clubs do not speak up. After the game Balotelli went to social media to thank his teammates but at the end of the day he must be disappointed with Juric’s comments. Aren’t we supposed to be taking steps forward and not backwards? However when UEFA do very little to educate and reinforce racism- banners do absolutely nothing- then we are left at a stalemate.

In England racism has almost disappeared from the stands. Yes of course it is there, but who remembers Balotelli having to stop a game and getting visibly upset when he played in the Premier League? Perhaps he needs to check again if playing in Italy is the right career move for him. However being Italian why shouldn’t he play in his home country, why should he run? The real problem is inside the football dressing rooms and outside the stadiums, sadly it seems that nothing is going to change quickly.

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Brescia appoint Grosso after sacking Corini

Brescia fired Eugenio Corini on Sunday night after the loss to Hellas Verona and announced today the hiring of Fabio Grosso. The Rondinelle are in the middle of a three-game losing streak, as they have been defeated recently also by Genoa and Inter. They are penultimate in the standings, having collected just seven points so far by downing Cagliari and Udinese away and tying with Fiorentina.

The Biancoblu had their best performances against the top teams, as they were in the match until late versus Juventus, Napoli and the Nerazzurri, always losing by just one goal, but that did not translate into positive results in easier contests, which doomed Corini, even though he led them to the promotion with a dominant season last year. Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Recap – Round 11

Standings implications: Juventus and Inter continue to churn out Ws despite not looking particular dominant and are running away atop of the standings. The Bianconeri topped Torino in the Derby della Mole, while the Benamata defeated Bologna on the road. Roma, Lazio and Cagliari prevailed in the top matches of the round as La Lupa beat Napoli, the Biancocelesti nipped Milan and the Sardinians upended Atalanta away. Fiorentina-Parma ended in a one-to-one tie. The coach-less Udinese stunned Genoa. Verona kept up the good form with a narrow win over Brescia, while Lecce and Sassuolo shared the spoils in a fun game. Sampdoria came away with three precious points versus SPAL.  Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Preview – Round Ten

Brescia-Inter: Eugenio Corini has had some reservations in using Alfredo Donnarumma and Mario Balotelli together, but Florian Aye, while tactically precious, has not been productive and so the more predictable duo should be the way to go moving forward. However, they have combined for just one goal in the last three matches and they will face one of the best back-lines in the League. Daniele Dessena’s injury ended up hurting Romulo’s fantasy stocks in the short-term, since he is being used as box-to-box, at least until one between Emanuele Ndoj and Jaromir Zmhral manages to unseat Nikolas Spalek, who has not been effective as no.10. Sandro Tonali is coming off his first Serie A goal and constitutes is half of their offense. Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Recap – Round Six

Standings implications: the top three teams in the standings were all successful on Saturday. The one that had to combat the most was Inter, which run into some trouble against Sampdoria but still prevailed, while Juventus and Atalanta easily disposed of SPAL and Sassuolo. The Roman sides kept up as La Lupa nipped Lecce on the road, while Lazio trucked Genoa. Fiorentina earned their second W in a row with a splendid display against a dwindling Milan. Cagliari came back to earth with a draw versus Verona. Udinese returned to winning days after four rounds by defeating Bologna. Parma outlasted Torino on Monday night.  Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Preview – Round Six

Juventus-SPAL: the Bianconeri have not been very spectacular in the last two matches against minnows, but they got the job done with the contribution of few different players. Cristiano Ronaldo has shaken off his injury and will be back in this one, Paulo Dybala has outperformed Gonzalo Higuain in the last couple of outings, but the latter is usually closer to the goal. Aaron Ramsey has been pretty good and they could carry on with the tactics where he is heavily featured, but it remains to be seen whether he can play thrice in a row, otherwise Adrien Rabiot or Federico Bernardeschi could get the nod there and reap the benefits of a very offensive role. They have gotten goals from Miralem Pjanic and Blaise Matuidi, even though Sami Khedira is generally the midfielder who is most involved in the offense. Juan Cuadrado loses some steam because he is forced to play as right back for the time being. Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Preview – Round 5

Brescia-Juventus: two questions loom large on the game, one for each side. Mario Balotelli is eligible to return after the suspension, but his conditioning might be a problem after skipping the summer preparation, so he might be initially be kept on the bench. Cristiano Ronaldo has been ruled out due to muscle fatigue and it is new situation under Maurizio Sarri; they also do not have Douglas Costa, so they lack a pure left-wing player. Federico Bernardeschi could certainly be adapted there, but he has struggled so far, so the coach might try new solutions, like for instance fielding Paulo Dybala and Gonzalo Higuain together. Whoever ends up starting up front will have to shoulder a bigger load sans Ronaldo. Continue reading

Serie A Injury and Suspensions Report – Round Four

Atalanta: Luis Muriel tweaked his knee against Genoa but he was available versus Dinamo Zagreb, so he avoided significant problems.

Bologna: Blerin Dzemaili picked up a calf ailment but he made the squad list. Danilo remains out with a thigh strain.

Brescia: Daniele Dessena is suspended and Mario Balotelli will serve the final game of his disqualification. Bruno Martella (calf) and Giangiacomo Magnani, Ernesto Torregrossa (quad) and Emanuele Ndoj (ankle shelf) stay on the shelf. Continue reading

Serie A Injury and Suspension Report – Round Two

Atalanta: Timothy Castagne will miss another one as he is recovering from a meniscus tear, but he should be ready after the break.

Bologna: no absentees for the Felsinei who will play tonight.

Brescia: Mario Balotelli continue serving his suspension, while Giangiacomo Magnani will miss another one too. Ernesto Torregrossa has recovered and might start. Continue reading

Serie A Injury and Suspension Report – Round 1

Atalanta: Josip Ilicic is a suspended, while Luis Muriel is sick, which will cost him a place in the XI but not the call-upTimothy Castagne had surgery to remove a torn meniscus and should miss the first two games.

Bologna: Jerdy Schouten picked up a knee sprain in the pre-season but he has recovered enough to be called up. 

Brescia: Mario Balotelli is disqualified for the first four fixtures, while Ales Mateju will sit out just the first one for the same reason. Emmanuel Ndoj is dealing with an ankle injury that will cost him some time. Andrea Cistana missed the recent Coppa Italia game for a similar, but smaller, issue, but could be back for the opening match. Daniele Dessena, Daniele Gastaldello have recovered from small injuries, while Giangiacomo Magnani and Ernero Torregrossa have been ruled out.  Continue reading