Patrick Vieira blasted Italian society, clubs and players like Leonardo Bonucci for being “ignorant” when it comes to racism. “Nothing has changed since my day.”
The debate over how to deal with racism in stadiums hit the headlines again last week with the ugly scenes from Lazio ultras in the Coppa Italia semi-final with Milan.
Despite repeated warnings read over the speaker system, play was never halted by the prefect in charge of security – as in Italy, the referee is not given the authority to suspend a game for racist abuse.
“Nothing at all has changed since my day,” Vieira told La Gazzetta dello Sport.
“When someone like (former FIGC President Carlo) Tavecchio makes certain statements, it’s impossible for there to be change. There is so much ignorance and very little education.
“Technology nowadays allows you to identify and punish racists. If the clubs don’t do it, they should have points deducted. Fines are useless.”
The discussion remains as to whether it’s right to suspend play at all based on what a minority of supporters do.
“Games should be stopped, but it’s also up to us black players to show more solidarity, even as opponents. If a black player is insulted, all the black players ought to walk off, not just him and his teammates.
“The white players ought to walk off in solidarity too, but I doubt it’ll happen, considering Bonucci’s comments after Moise Kean was insulted at Cagliari.”
Bonucci said straight after the final whistle that his Juventus teammate Kean had “50-50” responsibility for the racist abuse, as he had celebrated his goal in provocative fashion.
The defender later clarified his comments, but the damage had been done.
“It is absurd that in Italy the son of immigrants, who is born on Italian soil, is not considered legally Italian. Italy are depriving themselves of opportunities and intellectual open-mindedness. They are denying the future.
“Italy remains so ignorant with respect to the changes in the world and all of that reinforces racism.”
Italian citizenship is passed down through blood and not place of birth, so it is technically easier for someone born and raised in Argentina with an Italian great-grandfather to get an Italian passport than Mario Balotelli, who was born in Palermo and raised in Brescia.
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