Friday September 13 2019
Koulibaly: Italy, look at England

Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly claims black players in Serie A risk becoming ‘prisoners of minorities’ unless Italy starts kicking out racist fans.

Koulibaly has been subjected to racial abuse from Lazio and Inter supporters in recent seasons, and the Senegalese believes the time has come for authorities to finally get serious about fighting the problem.

“Why we can’t wait...” he told Corriere dello Sport, beginning with a famous Martin Luther King Jr. quote.

“Unfortunately, that phrase still resonates, even in football, Italian football. I grew up reading Martin Luther King and Malcolm X, viewing them as role models, mentors and teachers, symbols of a challenge that we must tackle together and, in our case, above all, through laws.

“Racism in stadia must be defeated, but to succeed we need the government to put deterrents in place that help curb these unhealthy habits: proceeding with expulsions like in England, even for life if necessary.

“If not, we risk becoming prisoners of minorities, which could multiply in size.

“If the Olimpico wound healed quickly, because I thought we were in the presence of a shift, I was shocked by the racism at San Siro: because Milan is the most cosmopolitan city, the most European of Italian cities.

“I couldn’t understand why there was that attitude towards me. I can’t get my head around it when it happens to others.”

The 28-year-old then sympathised with Sinisa Mihajlovic and Lorenzo Insigne, both of whom have been targeted for their backgrounds.

 “I’m fully convinced of that because discrimination isn’t only about skin colour. I’m subjected to monkey chants, while with Mihajlovic - to whom I dedicate a personal thought - the insults concern his background.

“It’s serious, unbearable. I’ve tried, at times, with Insigne, to reassure him: come on, let it pass.

“Instead, I made a mistake: it’ll only pass if we oppose it, if there are serious interventions.

“Insulting Lorenzo, who is a footballer and not just one of our players, who is one of his national team’s biggest assets, means insulting Italy itself, being angry with your neighbour, who is one of you.”

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