Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly told L’Equipe magazine about his experiences of racism. “They’re thugs and would never dare make those noises to my face.”
The Senegal international centre-back was born in France to Senegalese parents and described “swimming in diversity from birth” at Saint-Die-des-Vosges with friends of varied nationalities.
“There might’ve been a racist tinge to some of the comments at FC Metz and Genk, but I didn’t have a single problem of genuine racism.
“I heard a lot about the stereotypes of Italy being racist and people not liking Serie A because of that. However, my family is very happily settled in Naples, as are my friends when they come to visit. The Senegalese street sellers here get called Koulibaly and they’re very happy with that. It’s not a problem.
“The first experience of real racism was against Lazio during my second season. During that match (February 2016), I really lost it. The monkey chants were so loud, I lost focus. I was no longer thinking about football and that really hurt.
“The staff was worried, the Coach (Maurizio Sarri) offered to stop the match and walk off if it continued. The truth is, I felt embarrassed, as if I didn’t deserve to be there.
“Looking back, I should’ve felt the opposite: the racists should’ve felt ashamed. They’re thugs and would never dare make those noises to my face. They can hide in a crowd and be anonymous.
“We’ve got to clamp down on it. Other countries are further ahead in the fight against racism, as for example in England they ban people for life. We need more drastic measures like that in Italy.”
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