Former Parma and Juventus defender Lilian Thuram “would close all Serie A stadiums for a weekend” when incidents of racism occur.
The issue has reared its head in Italy again in recent days, as Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly was racially abused by a section of Inter fans.
“When I played in Italy these things were already happening,” Thuram told Corriere dello Sport.
“After 12 years, unfortunately, it seems the situation hasn’t changed. Do you know what that means? That not enough has been done and racism isn’t a priority for you.
“Not for the political class or for the directors of the clubs, who focus on anything else and not on this unacceptable plague.
“It’s something that’s impossible to forget, I assure you. I don’t forget, but even those who just see the incidents in the stadium or on TV shouldn’t forget.
“Instead I get the impression that people get nervous when these things happen, they erase it quickly and shift their attention to other things.
“One incident is already too much in my opinion, but if these episodes are repeated and above all increase many years later, it means that Italian directors and fans aren’t taking the issue very seriously.
“If they were taking it seriously they’d do anything to stop it happening again, but instead a lot of people don’t care about the monkey chants and and other equally unpleasant chants in the stadiums.
“It’ll be because I’m a black person - or dark brown, if you prefer - but I’m tired of these debates.
“When incidents like this happen, I would close all Serie A stadiums for a weekend. Not just Inter’s.
“If Italian sports fans had to spend Saturday and Sunday without any games they’d be obliged to reflect, to understand how unjust it is to attack a person on the pitch just for the colour of his skin.
“If there was one white person in a league made up of all black players it wouldn’t happen. The black players would react against the fans and shut them up.
“Not because they’re better, but because when you’re black you learn quickly what it means to be attacked or discriminated against.
“And if you see that another person is a victim of the same thing you rebel, you automatically defend them.
“The message isn’t for Koulibaly, but for the people who read this interview and go to the stadium to make monkey noises at black players.
“Look at each other, ask yourselves why you accept or do these things. If the situation does not change, it's because so many of you do not want it to happen.
“Maybe you think you’re better than blacks, but that’s not the case.
“That’s the reality. Not just in Italy, but in other European countries too, there are many people who think that whites are superior to blacks.
“Those who make the monkey noises do it because they think they’re superior, and that’s because of bad education.
“In a civil society, skin colour, religion and sexuality are not important.
“Those who distinguish ‘us’ from ‘the others’ and come to think ‘we’re better than the others’ are racist.”
Is it more of a problem in Italy?
“It’s wrong to make rankings, because each country has its own problems. Each ruling class should look at the picture in their own nation and intervene.
“It seems impossible to me that in 2019 so many people think the monkey chants are of so little importance, that this thing is accepted in football stadiums.
“After what happened to Koulibaly how many people took the floor saying that we must find a solution, even at the cost of stopping league? No-one. It’s incredible.
“Maybe now we’re agitated about this, but in 15 days the focus will be on something else and people will already have forgotten the monkey noises at Koulibaly, and the black players who preceded him.
“If there are no certain penalties, this problem will never be solved. Without making an example with punishments you may as well do nothing.”