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Friday December 23 2016
Lulic case shames us all

The worst part about Senad Lulic’s laughable punishment for racism is that it wasn’t even surprising, writes Gaby McKay.

An extra day off after New Year. That, it turns out, is the going rate for racially abusing a fellow professional in Serie A these days. It was confirmed yesterday that Lazio’s Senad Lulic will receive a 20-day ban for his remarks about Roma’s Antonio Rudiger, with the punishment conveniently handed down just after the Aquile had played their final game ahead of the winter break, so he misses just one fixture against the mighty Crotone.

Perhaps the most depressing aspect of the laughable ‘punishment’ is that it isn’t at all surprising. It’s yet another example of the culture of being SEEN to do justice without actually DOING justice which is prevalent in football, Italian football perhaps most of all.

Following the Derby della Capitale, Lulic had dismissed Rudiger, saying of the centre-back “two years ago he was selling socks and belts in Stuttgart.” Needless to say, Rudiger has never been a street seller, was born and raised in Germany and already playing for Die Mannschaft before he came to Roma.

“It’s not his fault really, but the fault of those who are around him. They haven’t taught him good manners,” Lulic continued. The implication being that the Giallorossi defender is a beast, uncivilised. He can’t be expected to know any better.

To be clear, this wasn’t an outburst in the heat of the moment. That would be understandable, if not forgivable. No, Lulic was speaking in a television interview after the match. When offered the chance to reword or withdraw what he had said, the Lazio man refused. Lulic did later issue an apology, but only after he’d seen the firestorm surrounding him and the club had already said sorry on his behalf.

While Kevin Strootman was given a two-game ban following that same match for throwing water and play-acting - later revoked - Lulic’s case was passed to the FIGC. After almost a month of investigation, the midfielder will miss one match against Crotone.

Can we really be surprised? After all, the head of the FIGC is one Carlo Tavecchio. While running for election in 2014, Tavecchio decried “Opti Poba” who “previously was eating bananas” and could now play in Serie A. There was condemnation, a mealy-mouthed apology and a token “ban” from UEFA, but Tavecchio was still elected.

Whether it’s Silvio Berlusconi declaring that Mario Balotelli “has taken too much sun, but is still Italian” or Arrigo Sacchi warning “there are too many black players, even in the youth teams”; the attitudes to racism among the gentry of calcio is frighteningly backward.

How can the FIGC condemn Lazio fans for monkey chanting against Costa Nhamoinesu when their own President has pushed the same stereotypes?

Alas, this being football, partisanship often comes ahead of decency. Rather than condemn their player in the aftermath of his interview, Lazio immediately declared they’d defend him. Some fans of the Biancocelesti leapt in to insist that what Lulic had said wasn’t really racist. Do they really believe he’d have made those comments about a white person?

What would Lulic have to have done for those fans to admit he was being racist? Use the N-word? Make a monkey noise? Even then, they’d probably say he was just quoting Kanye West or recreating his favourite scene from Planet Earth.

This isn’t about Lazio, Roma, or any other club. It’s about condemning racism. Lazio’s communications director said “I expect an apology for the songs Roma fans aimed at the lad”, the classic “what about them?!” approach so prevalent in football.

Juventus fans sing songs about Superga? “But what about them?!” Rangers fans sing songs about Catholics? “But what about them?!” Chelsea fans admit ‘we’re racist and we like it? “What about them?!” What about, what about, what about.

Many, perhaps most, Lazio fans utterly condemn racism. The abuse from sections of their support embarrasses them. But it’s no good saying “what about?” when one of your players is involved. It’s no good staying silent. Condemning an opponent is easy, speaking up against your own takes real courage, and that applies to fans of every team in the world.

This year, FIFA disbanded its anti-racism taskforce because it had “completely fulfilled” its task. Yes, in the year of Donald Trump, Nigel Farage and Marine Le Pen, FIFA solved racism. This, Lulic’s ban and countless other examples prove that the game’s governing bodies aren’t going to seriously combat racism. That’s why it’s up to us.

The rivalry between teams is a key part of football, and one of the most wonderful. But it has its limits. If you’re delighted that Lulic has been given such a lenient punishment, ask yourself how you’d react had Edin Dzeko said the same thing about Keita Balde Diao. Would you associate with someone who said those things in the pub? If not, you shouldn’t tolerate it in the stadium.

The authorities won’t get serious about racism until fans stop making excuses for it in their midst. Don’t point at others. Don’t stay silent.

Keep up to date with the latest news and action from Spain's Primera Division with Football Espana - from the team behind Football Italia.

Have your say...
As a reader of Football Italia since the early 2000s, this is the first time I have got a glimpse of the type of people who frequent these blogs, and it is pretty embarrassing. I think its best for me to stay away from these comment pages in future - better to leave the ignorant, racist sympathisers (who use freedom of speech as justification for a stereotypical assumptive insult based overtly on skin colour) to argue inanely amongst themselves.

And Lulic talks about manners. How ironic.
on the 31st December, 2016 at 2:34am
Great article.

Using the words PC culture to defend racist slur is one of the defining fault lines of our current state of affairs.

The length of punishment should be discussed, I for one find a 20 day match ban ludicrous.

But defending Lulic's right of free speech is just horrendously stupid. And trying to pretend that the comment he made towards Rudiger could have been made towards anyone is blatant falsehood.

Shame on you for bashing PC culture! And earn the right to be treated decently.
on the 29th December, 2016 at 10:08am
Yeah!!! What the guy said below me!
on the 29th December, 2016 at 12:25am
Ignorant SJW's like Gaby shame us all. You know nothing about calcio culture in Italy, nor about the rivalry between Lazio and roma. That idiotic romanista teenager tried to provoke a true champion like Lulic and got outwitted. And he was lucky DiCanio was no longer with us, he wouldn't just have outwitted him but beat him up too.BLHY
on the 28th December, 2016 at 10:11am
Stupidity and ignorance is clearly alive and doing well on this thread.
on the 27th December, 2016 at 9:47am
I can't really tell who's a pizza maker[or 3rd generation pizza maker if you want] and who's just a white person. How do you tell the difference Al Lazio Club? Please let me know so I know I'm using the stereotype on the right people.
on the 26th December, 2016 at 5:16pm
what do you know about what shames us all .....i cant handle 3rd generation italians talking about something they know nothing off first off he used a stereo type not racism ..for example your italian you must be if your writing for football italia so if i say to you go make me a pizza, you do that better than writing ..what would u say ...doesnt matter because we know your a 3rd generation italian what do you know about making a pizza right but i guess im a racist for saying it
on the 26th December, 2016 at 3:04am
so how is selling socks and belts in Stuttgart racist?
on the 25th December, 2016 at 2:30am
Of course it's right to equate racism and free speech together. Just google racism and free speech and see what comes up. It's a hotly debated topic precisely because they are so interconnected. The whole point of the ideal of free speech is that minority opinions still get a voice, even if the majority find them despicable. Chipping away at free speech because of what society finds acceptable is a dangerous path to go down. No one has a right not to be offended.
on the 24th December, 2016 at 11:00pm
How did they work? Is that a joke? Why do you think the western world boasts the greatest achievements for race equality in the history of our species? Education and movements. What movement do you think Martin Luther King gave his life for? Of course it's probably too late to change someone like Lulic, but he should be allowed to speak and made an example of. I never said education and movements can change a single person over night. Think of it on a macro level over time and generations.
on the 24th December, 2016 at 10:54pm
All the football to talk about and you devote an entire article to an idiot who made some stupid comments in the heat of the moment? Really? Move on. Should we have him stand trial for war crimes against humanity? To much PC bull nowadays coming from journalist and the media.
on the 24th December, 2016 at 5:59pm
Great article. But like you said, Tavecchio is the president. So what do you expect. Censorship might not be the solution, but letting everyone say what they want in public is even worse. And do you really think "education or movements" will suddenly make a person not racist? Educations and movements have being going for decades, how did that work? Change has to come from within. Assuming they want to change.. And it's really sad to see people equating racist ignorant remarks to freedom of speech. There's also a huge difference between being a "SJW" / "Politically correct" and between being a decent human being. Condemning racists and bigots is not "PC culture", it's decent culture. Yes there are people who took it too far with political correctness and it backfired. And now everything is lumped together. So now even dismissing a racist remark will label you as a social justice warrior, an apologist, a politically correct nut, etc etc etc.
on the 24th December, 2016 at 2:19pm
It's not censorship to criticise Lulic for being racist!

And Football Italia is a private website which you are choosing to comment on, they can censor you all they want, a football website does not have to give you free speech, only the government does.
on the 24th December, 2016 at 10:40am
@censorship + deep resentment anon

Where do you think we are now? There's already deep resentment because the current system is seen as censorship. And you can't fix it with speech or education when the other side outright rejects them.

"Freedom" of expression has failed, there has to be real accountability for the problem to be addressed. Alternatively, you could tolerate it all under the guise of freedom like some think it's meant to be.
on the 24th December, 2016 at 9:02am
Those of you defending Lulic's words under the auspice of free speech need to understand that while an individual may be free to say what they wish, there are consequences nonetheless. This is where the public, and op-Ed articles are rightly able to critique those consequences for language many view as abhorrent. If you don't see the racist aspect of Lulic's comments, consider yourself lucky for not being a member of a group who is historically oppressed.

This was a well written article, cheers
on the 24th December, 2016 at 3:31am
So if its not racist why is he being suspended in the first place? bc it was mean? FIGC is an absolute joke but thats known. idg some of you people talking about free speech. yeah he can say it all he wants but when hes on tv representing lazio and serie a hes liable to face consequences for any stupid stuff he might say. and people who are sick of being called racist are usually found to be saying something racist LOL. The worlds not getting bigger people...learn to love each other.
on the 24th December, 2016 at 3:09am
No one's saying openly accept racists. Please do condemn them. But fight back with speech, with movements, with education.

To punish a person for simply voicing words is censorship. So how is it beyond belief that censorship is defined as the suppression of free speech? That thingy is the corner stone of the western world and it's constantly under threat.

Censorship buries the problem. It leaves deep resentment rotting under the surface, out of sight, but very much there.
on the 23rd December, 2016 at 11:58pm
The punishment is low because it WASNT A RACISM. That same remark could be used on a white, or yellow dude. How is selling socks an insult to only one race?
on the 23rd December, 2016 at 11:31pm
racists have had enough of this pc culture apparently lol... why cant dumb people say racist stuff without being ostracized? The nerve of people who want ignorance and bigotry gone.
on the 23rd December, 2016 at 9:51pm
So now we know there are racists sympathisers in here as well. To try to put racist remark and freedom of speech as similar is beyond believe. So thats what these racists think about racist remarks.. its a freedom of speech thingy. And they actually use the "what about them" argument on Football Italia's comment review policy! Hopeless guy. Hopefully these.morally-rotten humans are not Interista.
on the 23rd December, 2016 at 9:10pm
and rangers fans get huge criticism in Scotland for singing anti catholic songs yet their rivals celtic hardly any by the same Scottish press even though their fans continually sing a song containing the words "soon there will be no protestants at all". Journalists can't just pick and choose who and when they criticise for similar behaviour, they have to do it all the time despite their partialities. Or else fans will rightly say what about them?
on the 23rd December, 2016 at 8:56pm
It's difficult to get away from fans saying what about them in football. If Lulic had received a bigger ban for his comments on Rudiger than De Rossi did for his comment to Mandzukic then Lazio fans would have rightly asked why and what about de rossi? Juve have been called cheats by other fans for years and yet there has been more than enough evidence to justify their fans asking of others what about them?
on the 23rd December, 2016 at 8:51pm
PC culture... I'm not sure what kind of people even complain about that.

Maybe the decriers are right. But it's the best middle ground available, and moving from there is far too dangerous. It's either openly accept racists, or actually punish them. You know what, though? People don't mind "thought police" extremes, I can name a few guilty of it. Give them what they want, take away free speech and correct people's thoughts forcefully.
on the 23rd December, 2016 at 8:25pm
I get that. It shouldn't go unnoticed. Distasteful viewpoints and opinions should be condemned by those who find them distasteful. Social attitudes should be challenged through free open discussion. Don't you want to live in a free society or would you rather minority opinions be forced into silence? Attaching heavy punishments to a comment will not solve the viewpoint that led to that comment.

So not only is it ineffective at solving the problem, it betrays the core values of our society.
on the 23rd December, 2016 at 8:13pm
You guys can't be serious. I think his remarks was as racist as it gets, which makes his punishment totally ridiculous. I knew something was wrong when they didn't ban him straight away and waited until Lazio's last match of the year was over.

People should think before saying something in public when angry. Specially the racist ones.

This is not right. If you think it is you have a problem.
on the 23rd December, 2016 at 7:55pm
Everyone hitting out on the writer, but lets not take away the fact that a racist comment should go unnoticed and warrant just a one game suspension. Lulic made a racist comment like it or not, and he himself must accept responsibility for acting like a racist sore loser in the heat of the moment. I agree its important to change social attitudes, but there have to be actual repercussions as well
on the 23rd December, 2016 at 7:46pm
You're the judge, McKay? You're going to decide what is racist and what not?

Nice try of defamation (cuz it's obvious that there wasn't racism), but little too obvious and little to often on this place. Not going to buy you points.
on the 23rd December, 2016 at 5:02pm
And the fact you clowns review comments first before posting them to the site shames us all, not Lulic's punishment. You people just don't get it. You can't tell others what to think and how to behave. If you're going to have a website and believe in open discussion, you don't get to pick and choose what words are heard.
on the 23rd December, 2016 at 4:01pm
So here's the deal- just because you don't like the punishment doesn't mean it's a light punishment. Clearly this is just another case of a 'journalist' trying to be a social justice warrior. The world has changed gears, people are sick of being called racist, a bigot, misogynist, homophobe and many others when they in fact are not those things at all. When governing bodies tried to start banning people because from whatever activity it is they govern. No! That doesn't get to happen. No.
on the 23rd December, 2016 at 3:57pm
What about freedom of speech? They're just words. He didn't incite violence so what right do you or anyone else have to silence him? Tackling racism should be done by changing social attitudes. He should be condemned publicly but not silenced and punished. If we enact huge punishments we're just driving the problem behind closed doors. It just forces real racists to stay silent in public to avoid the punishment.

People have had enough of this PC culture, hence Brexit and Trump.
on the 23rd December, 2016 at 3:13pm

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