BLOG ITALIA
Monday November 4 2019
Many Italians don't understand racism

Football fans are a mere microcosm of society and what Mario Balotelli faced in Verona reflected a larger issue, writes Susy Campanale.

Mario Balotelli was subjected to racist abuse at the Stadio Bentegodi. This, somehow, is still up for debate in Italy. It is not about Italian football at this point, nor is it helpful to note all the recent incidents of racism in the Premier League, Ligue 1 and most blatantly in Bulgaria.

Calling for entire nations to be thrown out of various competitions is also not going to achieve anything, other than pinning a badge of wokeness on your lapel. It’s not going to happen, we all know that, because it’d be impractical and football is now such a business-oriented sport that nobody will put billions at risk thanks to a few idiots.

The problem I see when discussing this is a more fundamental concern: different nations and people within those countries have very different ideas of what constitutes racism.

I am proud of my Italian heritage, always will be, but I also have no shame in admitting it is a country decades behind Britain and even most of Europe in terms of race relations. Blackface is still shown on primetime television, the most popular quiz show has a regular skit where the host puts on a Chinese hat, pulls his eyes to make them ‘slitty’ and replaces all the Rs in his words with an L. This is a nation where Matteo Salvini and the Lega Nord are realistically now the most popular political party, where leaving a hundred refugees floating on the sea for weeks and weeks rather than letting them board is considered a wise policy decision.

How far behind are Italy? Last week, Parliament voted to institute a new commission to examine and fight hate speech, anti-Semitism and racism. The right-wing parties abstained and then refused to stand for the woman who proposed the commission, Holocaust survivor Liliana Segre, claiming the idea of clamping down on hate speech was “Orwellian” and “Soviet.”

Last month, Juan Jesus received offensive Instagram messages from a Roma supporter – his own club – and that man gave an interview with a major newspaper assuring he did call the Brazilian an ape and say he ought to be in a zoo, but that he was “certainly not racist.” We live in a world where people think they can say racist things and somehow not actually be racist. And they genuinely believe that.

Lazio President Claudio Lotito proudly declared during a speech about battling racism that their supporters weren’t just targeting black players, they also booed “those with normal skin.” And he didn’t see an issue with that wording at all.  

Hellas Verona coach Ivan Juric and President Maurizio Setti argued passionately that their fans were being dragged through the mud because there was no racist chanting towards Balotelli. Helpfully, a Verona fan himself posted a video of the incident just before Balotelli kicked the ball into that very section of the stands, which he assured was proof that there was no racist abuse. The fact the clip contained clearly audible ‘monkey noises’ apparently slipped him by. “Do you hear racist abuse towards Balotelli? Or did the genius just want attention?” It is what the Twitterverse would call a perfect self-own.

Here lies the other problem we are all facing, and I mean everyone all over the world, so get off your high horses about Italy at this point: social media has changed the way people relate to each other. Mob mentalities are created, the false bravery afforded by anonymity, the idea all at once that celebrities have to see our messages – they appear in a timeline, don’t even have to click on your account or single you out – and are at our disposal because we pay to see their films/football matches/gigs, etc.

These are human beings. They owe you nothing other than a performance during the precise period you paid to partake in. You are not owed a selfie when they are going about their daily business. You are not owed a tweet, especially when asked with utter rudeness. And no, the celebrities are not ‘full of themselves’ or ‘forgetting who got you there’ if they happen to take affront to a complete stranger insulting them out of the blue.

Does social media breed racism? Perhaps. It certainly is taking away the thin veil of shame that many people had about expressing those views in public. Just look at the political discourse in Britain and America, those most ‘woke’ of nations who feel smug about the racism of other backwards countries and prefer to ignore the same scourge they face at home. Look at their media coverage of issues like immigration and national identity. The racism is always there, it’s just some nations and individuals accept the need to be politely ashamed of expressing it in public.

Maybe that’s the reason racist abuse is so rife in Italian football – many people in the stands and the media genuinely don’t understand calling someone an animal, something less than a human being, is racist rather than just banter or any other insult. We can’t blame football clubs for that. It’s all on society.

Have your say...
Dennis
I'll sit right infront of you. YOU came on here blasting off about meeting up and doing something to someone who wrote an opinion only for your one track mind to twist it up. Now all of sudden you don't know where this is coming from. Mouthy, hahaha every single post from you has been aggressive and threating. Definitely not impossible I'd move mountains to help you out.
on the 7th November, 2019 at 9:00am
@PrimoCalcio

I mentioned twice on this thread that tourists/visitors have experienced 1st hand racism in Naples... I have never heard such blatant stories about Milan, Turin, even Rome (except the ghettos).

The thugs and thieves have robbed and threatened their own stars in their own city, what chance do normal people visiting Naples have?

The guy who with Higuain's jersey in Naples - if Napoli win, will anyone care if some Napoli fan strolled across Turin in Callejon jersey?

I'm done...
on the 7th November, 2019 at 5:24am
You haven't gone back far enough to understand. Biological racism (as opposed to inter-ethnic chauvanism) was invented with Darwin and developed in Northern Europe. It's an evolution based theory that denotes a ranking of racial groups. The obvious implications of this theory are that some groups are 'sub-human'.The reason north europe is more 'advanced' is because they got a guilty conscience after realizing the damage their theories could cause and are simply more adept at hiding their racism.
on the 7th November, 2019 at 3:07am
@ITA where do you get all this from? This article is about Balotelli and what happened in the Verona game. This is what my focus was on. WTF are you talking about white guys vs black guys and every body vs me garbage? As for knocking the chip off my shoulder we both know its impossible to meet that is why you are mouthy but just in case, I live in London, Edgware to be exact. 
on the 6th November, 2019 at 11:59pm
Pino I live in the area with the most Muslims in the UK. Newham East London. Muslim Sharia No Go zones are a LIE and a FANTASY. I'm not remotely religious and never seen one of these "Zones" in my life. Women are free to dress however they want and are never harassed.

One group of idiots did it once years ago and were banned after 1 week and condemned by Muslims.
on the 6th November, 2019 at 10:25pm
@Pino
Imperialism and colonialism exist today. It's why Libya was invaded by NATO. Those countries were turned into war-zones which is exactly what created the refugees. The refugee crisis is therefore the direct result of European imperialism.
You didn't order the military strikes, so you have every reason to be upset with the mess your government created. So hold your country accountable. Direct your anger upwards at them, not towards the victims of their wars.
Contribute to positive change.
on the 6th November, 2019 at 10:21pm
@Pinturichhio
So you see fit to stereotype all Neapolitans? Or do you "assume some are good people"?
Just like the historical circumstances you correctly identified which leads to refugees fleeing their homes, the same can be said about whatever crime exists in Napoli or elsewhere. There's nothing inherent in the blood of Neapolitans that is criminal.
You wouldn't say this about all Mexicans despite high crime rates there.
Is territorial discrimination not a legit issue for you?
on the 6th November, 2019 at 10:13pm
@Pino My friends have visited Italy on my recommendation. Once, 3 of them, with their families, went to a Neapolitan restaurant. There was a mistake in the bill, so the father of one of my friends politely pointed out the mistake. The restaurant owner acted as if these 3 families had vilified his entire family and/or Italy. This has never happened to me, but then I speak Italian, and I know how to handle myself and other people. So, yes, you're a brainless racist...
on the 6th November, 2019 at 9:38pm
Also - I made a comment about Shria no-go zones in England being a product of PC culture.

Why did football-italia edit that out? What are they afraid of?
on the 6th November, 2019 at 8:40pm
What a garbage article. Condescending, cynical, presumptuous, and elitist point of view. Go home and try again.
on the 6th November, 2019 at 8:13pm
@dennis
Read between the lines. Hahahaha thats the point you reading is reading with the menatlity that everyones against you. You are the only one bringing up the black guy v all the white guys.
I know exactly what racism is. For you racism is anyone white disagreeing with your opinion.
You 'attacked' hahahaha you didn't attack me my posts have been doctored, I will gladly meet up anywhere and help you get over that chip on your shoulder. Unfortunately twice I have offered but FI don't post
on the 6th November, 2019 at 7:50pm
@ITA You have to prove your statement. I attacked 3 people on here yourself, Dan and Italian in Canada. What was innocent about their statements. Explain why people like you always come up with chip on your shoulder whenever you don't like what an ethnic minority especially black or woman has said? Is monkey chanting the only form or racism? " He clearly can not read and understand. " I most certainly can read between the lines of that statement but I a'int gonna bite. Keep thinking u r better.
on the 6th November, 2019 at 6:54pm
I've noticed for decades. It's something we in Britain don't realise about Italy,Spain,Portugal and Argentina. I have a friend from Argentina who has sent black joke cartoons that would be considered racist to me, knowing I am half black. Without any intended racism (Exactly like Bernado Silva) These nations simple do not "Get" racism. They seem to think it's the same as calling someone ugly or fat. Yet in these countries if you insult their mother you've declared war.
on the 6th November, 2019 at 6:27pm
@Pinturicchio

Just because Europeans did bad things hundreds of years ago around the world doesn't mean people today have to pay for it.

Man up and be responsible for YOUR OWN ACTIONS, and don't require people to be responsible for things THEIR ANCESTORS MAY HAVE DONE HUNDREDS OF YEARS AGO.

That's a ridiculous argument. Then again, you're a racist and a Juve supporter, so what else would I expect? Haha.
on the 6th November, 2019 at 4:32pm
Italians just aren't overly sensitive and politically correct like they are in the UK, which, by the way, has pretty much killed their culture. Condemn racists for making racist comments, and punish them. But don't slander all Italians because they're not insanely PC like you.
on the 6th November, 2019 at 4:27pm
Sorry primocalcio.
on the 6th November, 2019 at 1:33pm
@Dennis You turned everyones posts into a white against black discussion, only someone with a chip on his shoulder would do that. He displays aggression in all his posts. He clearly can not read and understand. He is offering people out who have made perfectly innocent comments nothing to do with monkey chanting. 
on the 6th November, 2019 at 1:31pm
It's a problem in many countries not just in Italy.Let's remember that.
on the 6th November, 2019 at 9:48am
@PrimoCalcio: Am I wrong?

=> Insigne, Lavezzi, Hamsik et al have been robbed - when they were together with their spouse/girlfriend - at knife's edge.

=> Repeated videos of Juventini being physically abused in Napoli for being Juventino, the fan who was manhandled while he was wearing Higuain's jersey.

=> Visited Naples? The garbage lying around the city is an exaggeration?

=> A lottt of my friends have experienced racist Italians when they've visited Naples even in restaurants, hotels..
on the 6th November, 2019 at 6:22am
@Phil: Ah, the arrogance of a douche to say that immigration is being forced upon Europe, and people from poor countries are destroying EU... Conveniently forgetting that Portuguese, Brits, Spaniards, French, the Dutch et al colonised entire regions of India and Africa and plundered away wealth and natural resources for hundreds of years.

This is the same kind of idiocy which when extremist use as a defence is called "white supremacy" or "fascism". STFU and learn your history.
on the 6th November, 2019 at 6:12am
@Maldini's Heir
It's good to see somebody else here with a thoughtful perspective.
We shouldn't have to have discussions of this nature on a football site but obviously it's necessary.
on the 6th November, 2019 at 3:23am
@Jez
"I don't have to put myself in anyones shoes."

"I don't see why Europe has to come up with a solution."

Then you are not an honest actor and should expect no empathy or understanding from others because you show none yourself.

It has everything to do with football when this backward mentality is brought into the stadia every week.

No point in listening to you any further, because you've shown you don't care about listening to others.
on the 6th November, 2019 at 3:19am
I don't like Lukaku but I did say that I wish he scored a lot of goals to ram down your disgusting throats and he is doing just that. The posts were just embarrassing before he had even kicked a ball for Inter. When you are in packs or behind a keyboard you are brave, this is why I'd love for you show your bravery 1 on 1, then I'd give you your props. Saying Balotelli is an overrated footballer is true saying he does not deserve to play for Italy because he is black is on your parents
on the 6th November, 2019 at 12:44am
@iTA let me put it simply. There is a difference between having an opinion on a black player and making monkey chants towards him but to you it comes natural to think it is the same thing since your parents brought you up that way. All I am saying is when you see a black man in person, make monkey chants at him. Say it loud you are white and proud to be superior to any other race. I dare you.
on the 6th November, 2019 at 12:30am
anyone any good. I don't mean to be smart. I'm merely calling for some perspective. But you want to hear solutions. So here are some solutions:
a) as a matter of urgency the EU, the US and other rich countries need a Green New Deal to fight climate change;
b) the EU needs to offer trade deals to African countries to boost trade and the domestic economies so as to boost jobs in those countries and reduce the pull factors;
c) the EU (as it's already doing) needs to target the people traffickers);
on the 5th November, 2019 at 10:36pm
continents or countries or do you extend your fear to pubs and restaurants and football stadiums? Do you stand there freaking out that the venue will allow in too many people or do you just assume that they've got it sorted? If so, why do you apply the same logic to entire continents that you apply to the pub? Thirdly, like I said before immigration is only going one way so if you're freaking out about it now, you're going to keep freaking out about it, and all that freaking out does not do
on the 5th November, 2019 at 10:31pm
people on the continent of Europe and a tiny percentage of them are refugees. The reality is most people who complain about refugees and indeed immigration don't actually experience them. It's telling that the most support for refugees in Italy is in the South where the refugees are arriving and most of the anti-immigration sentiment globally is areas outside of the major cities with the lowest levels of immigration. Secondly, do you only get worried about overcrowding when it comes to entire
on the 5th November, 2019 at 10:29pm
In a world of more people, which is more interconnected than at any time in human history, with ageing populations in wealthier countries and huge wealth disparities, with dwindling resources and climate change, population numbers are only going one way. Anyone who claims that they can reduce immigration is again a liar. We need to deal with reality. Firstly, have you, Dan, personally been effected by the arrival of refugees? If not, why is it really a big concern of yours? There's about 550m
on the 5th November, 2019 at 10:27pm
@ Dan and the rest - The issue is not "secure borders". Our borders are secure. There are restrictions as to who can come and go; passport checks, visas, customs checks. The only people who can move freely are EU nationals. The issue is not security but reality. There's millions of people desperately fleeing war and starvation. There's not a lot anyone can do about it unless you're prepared to start shooting at refugees. Are you? Thought not. So anyone promising more secure borders is lying.
on the 5th November, 2019 at 10:25pm
Magica- vegan power.

Senza-racism can only be from white to black it can never be the other way around. Heaven forbid having an opinion about a player that is black as people like Dennis will call you racist and threaten to beat you until you too will be sat in silence.
Brexit is about the NHS and turks coming into the UK, both the 350mil per week and the turks coming in have been proved to be utter BS so now Brexit is about 'liberating' the UK from locks and chains of the EU.
on the 5th November, 2019 at 8:40pm

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