Napoli forgo ‘façade’ anti-racism campaign over Acerbi verdict

Napoli have said they will refuse to participate in Serie A’s ‘Keep Racism Out’ campaign as a result of the league and Italian football federation’s decision to not punish Inter Milan defender Francesco Acerbi for allegedly directing racist language towards defender Juan Jesus in the match between the two teams on March 17.

On Tuesday, the league announced that the sporting judge decided against punishing Acerbi for the alleged incident, saying the “minimum level of reasonable certainty” had not been reached that it was of a racial nature, though the judgement does note that a “offensive and threatening tenor” was clear in the analysed footage and statements.

The club released a statement the same day saying they won’t participate in Serie A’s ‘Keep Racism Out’ campaign.

“We will no longer join merely façade initiatives of football institutions against racism and discrimination, but we will continue to do them ourselves, as we have always done, with renewed conviction and determination,” Napoli said.

Napoli released a new shirt on Wednesday, and the club’s chief marketing officer confirmed at the launch that it wouldn’t carry the ‘Keep Racism Out’ patch on the right sleeve.

“Napoli have already communicated that any initiative will be made by Napoli and no longer through intermediaries from bodies and associations,” Tommaso Bianchi said. “We will move forward alone [with out own initiatives].”

The ‘Keep Racism Out’ patch was one of several initiatives for the campaign which the league has said is designed to “fight racism and all forms of discrimination, not only in the world of football and sport.”

According to the Serie A’s press release on the campaign, the initiatives set for the next two rounds of league action also includes specialised ball podiums, line-up arches, substitution boards and captain’s armbands.

In a statement released on Napoli’s official website on Wednesday, Juan Jesus said he was “struggling to understand” the sporting judge’s decision despite having read the report several times.

The Brazilian added that he does “not feel protected in any way by this decision” and feared it could “set a serious precedent to subsequently justify certain behaviors.”