Serie A must address racist issues

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Omar Momani
Racism like corruption continues to weigh down Serie A, preventing it from reaching the pinnacle of world football like it did in the 90s

When football fans today discuss Serie A; they often reminisce about its golden period in the 90s. Today Italy's top-flight is more often than not seen as a retirement home for washed-up stars over the age of 30 wanting one last bite at the cherry of top-class football. 

Adding to Serie A's woes is how the current generation of fans who did not grow up in the glorious era of the league tend to dismiss it as boring and too stylistically defensive. Although these claims could not be further from the truth, and the league is indeed improving as highlighted by five-time Balon d'Or winner Cristiano Ronaldo's arrival, Serie A still has some serious issues.

Besides endemic corruption, the problem of racism has continued to rear its ugly head in the league. Of course, the most recent form of racism was when Napoli's Kalidou Koulibaly was racially insulted by a segment of Inter's fans. The referee on that occasion Paolo Mazzoleni did not halt play and can be accused of not following the anti-racism protocol in order to address the racially charged insults directed at Koulibaly.

According to anti-racism protocols, a maximum of three announcements will be directed to fans to ask them to stop their untoward behaviour. Failure of which to comply, the referee can suspend the match. Now going back to Koulibaly's incident, despite three announcements being made imploring Inter fans to stop their actions, the warnings went unheeded. Mr Mazzoleni surely must take a portion of the blame for allowing such acts to continue.

However such instances in a country as complex as Italy isn't surprising, where waves of unbridled patriotism can spill over into disdain and contempt for those different from them. Interestingly, a few years back saw Serie A referee Claudio Gavillucci expelled from the league for suspending a Napoli-Sampdoria game due to racism. This is the sort of problem that continues to hold Serie A back and allowing their competitors to leapfrog them.

Conversely, Italy as a nation must start internalising these issues and ask itself how it is going to deal with them. It must start now for the start has long been overdue. Racism has no place not just on a football field alone, but anywhere in the world. Kevin-Prince Boateng, who walked out on a friendly game due to racism in 2013, mentioned last year how racism in football hasn't changed much. 

Maybe for Serie A in its bid to reach the top once again, can start by being the change.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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