The Italian league seems to have gone out of its way this season to remind us that football has still not moved past racism, sexism, and homophobia.
League leaders Napoli went to Lazio last night as they sought to hold off Juventus in the race for the Scudetto, but play was held up for five minutes during the match, after the home fans targeted Kalidou Koulibaly with racist abuse.
Lazio manager Stefano Pioli condemned the fans responsible, but was quick to suggest that the chants were uncharacteristic of the club’s support:
“Discriminatory chants should not exist. People need to have values like respect and education, and never forget them...The chants are unjustifiable, but [by stopping the game] we give a sense of importance to a tiny minority of troublemakers. It certainly wasn’t the entire stadium.”
Koulibaly disagreed though, thanking the referee, Massimiliano Irrati, and calling him ‘a brave man’.
It remains to be seen what punishment Lazio will face. However, it’s obvious that this is a pervasive problem in Italy - and elsewhere, of course - and that measures must be taken to effect change.
Napoli went on to win the game 2-0.