Koulibaly: Italy must copy Prem in racism fight

ESPN FC’s Gab Marcotti discusses the actions that need to be taken after Inter Milan’s Romelu Lukaku was subjected to racist chants at Cagliari.
ESPN FC’s Gab Marcotti gives reasons why Inter Milan have yet to condemn their own ultras’ statement of support of Cagliari’s racist chants towards Romelu Lukaku.
Gab Marcotti recommends closed-door games to punish fans following the racist chants directed at Romelu Lukaku during Inter’s win over Cagliari.
Jadon Sancho has spoken out about the detrimental impact of racism in football, following the abuse given to Romelu Lukaku at Inter Milan.

Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly has called on Serie A to learn from the Premier League in the fight against racism.

The Senegal international was the victim of racist abuse from a section of Inter Milan fans last season, which led to the Nerazzurri being handed a two-match stadium closure.

– Inter ultras defend Cagliari racist abuse of Lukaku
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– Ancelotti ‘shocked’ at state of Napoli locker room

And the topic has come under the spotlight again after Romelu Lukaku had monkey chants aimed at him from a section of Cagliari fans — six months after supporters of the Sardinian club racially abused Moise Kean and faced no sanction — and Koulibaly has said the laws need to change to allow for stronger punishment.

“Unfortunately, this issue [racism] is still an awful reality in football and in Italian football,” the 28-year-old told Il Corriere dello Sport.

“I grew up reading Martin Luther King and Malcolm X, looking to them as idols, professors and educators — symbols of a battle which is lived together and, in our case, above all in the law.

“Racism in stadiums needs to be beaten but, in order to achieve that, before [looking at] sporting laws, it’s the state laws — deterrents which will help to halt this behaviour.

“We should do what they did in England, stadium bans [for fans] even for life if necessary. Otherwise, we risk becoming prisoners of the minority which could then multiply”

In 2016, a match between Lazio and Napoli was stopped due to racist chanting aimed at Koulibaly from a section of the home support at the Stadio Olimpico.

Koulibaly said he was able to come terms with that incident more easily because he felt it was a standalone case, however, the abuse from Inter fans in 2018 truly shocked him.

“If the wound at the Olimpico healed quickly, because I retained that I felt we were just in a one-off moment, at San Siro left me stunned,” he added. “Because Milan is a more cosmopolitan city — the most European of all Italian cities.

“I just couldn’t understand, in either case, why there was this kind of attitude towards me. Just like I can’t justify why it happens to others.”

Koulibaly also said discrimination does not just include insulting a person’s skin colour, referring to when Bologna boss Sinisa Mihajlovic is called “gypsy” or Lorenzo Insigne receives abuse for coming from Naples.

“At me they aim monkey noises, to Mihajlovic — to whom I want to dedicate personal well-wishes [in his battle with leukaemia] — the offence is regarding his origins,” Koulibaly said. “It is a terrible and unacceptable.

“I have tried at times to calm Insigne down — to comfort him: ‘Come on, it will go away.’ But I was wrong: it will go away if we oppose it, if there are serious interventions.

“Offending Lorenzo, who is an international footballer, means offending Italy itself, going against your neighbour who is a part of you.”

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