The whole of the footballing lexicon has come together to condemn the monkey chants made by a few Inter Milan fans towards the Napoli defender
Senegal defender Koulibaly, currently one of the most coveted defenders across Europe, received these chants from Inter fans during their Serie A clash at the San Siro on Wednesday and was hurled such abuses throughout the game. Yo make matters worse, such chants only got more intense after the 27-year-old received his marching orders with ten minutes remaining for sarcastically clapping the referee.
Inter won the game 1-0 thanks to a 91st-minute goal from Lautaro Martinez, but were punished with a two-game stadium ban, which means they will play their next of a couple of home games behind closed doors, with a third game having a ‘curva’ section, which houses the clubs ‘ultra’ fans. What has raised eyebrows and caused even more furor is that the 27-year-old Koulibaly was handed a two-game suspension for his sending off, casting a very disappointing light on the Italian league’s punishment system and overall attitude while dealing with racism towards its players.
Many prominent football figures has since spoken out on the incident, including Liverpool’s Mo Salah, who tweeted: “There’s no place for racism in football. There’s no place for racism anywhere at all.” Koulibaly’s teammate Dries Marten too posted a heartwarming picture of the two sharing an embrace, captioned: “You’re one of the most beautiful people I know, please never change. Don’t react to this b*llshit. Let’s stand together!”
There’s no place for racism in football. There’s no place for racism anywhere at all. pic.twitter.com/d2YwWSbXJe
— Mohamed Salah (@MoSalah) December 27, 2018
Juventus’ 5-time Ballon d’Or winner Cristiano Ronaldo to had this to say on Instagram: “In the world and in football I always want education and respect. No to racism and any offense and discrimination!!!” Bundesliga leaders Borussia Dortmund led the various clubs’ support for the player, drawing attention to their ‘Borussia Unites’ anti-racism campaign. Even supporter protests faced backlash, with one such samaritan snapped holding an anti-racist banner in blackface.
Napoli manager Carlo Ancelotti received praise from anti-racism groups for his comments post-match. “We asked three times for the match to be suspended and there were three announcements, but the match continued,” he told Sky. “The player was irritable, he wasn’t in the best state of mind. Usually, he’s a very calm and professional player but there were these noises throughout the game. It looks like an excuse but the player was agitated and irritable. It’s not good, not for us, nor for Italian football. The solution exists. You have to stop the match. You just have to know when, after how many announcements. And if we don’t know, the next time we may have to stop play ourselves.”
Koulibaly himself later posted on Twitter, saying he was proud of his coloured skin and mixed heritage.
Mi dispiace la sconfitta e sopratutto avere lasciato i miei fratelli!
Però sono orgoglioso del colore della mia pelle. Di essere francese, senegalese, napoletano: uomo.
— Koulibaly Kalidou (@kkoulibaly26) December 26, 2018
It’s a shame that racism is such a big virus that afflicts football and it’s coloured players, even after so much has been said and written about the issue. Italy has been a hotbed for such abhorrent behaviour for some time now, and it paints a poor light on the league when they are unable to support the player and met out the deserved punishment to the accused and their clubs.