While sport (or any public, mass-consumed thing) is inherently political, I generally don’t have to address politics on this site. The main reason is that the community here is strong, respectful, and too smart to dig anything up that’ll lead to a shitstorm, and for that I am deeply grateful. To the shame of everyone who follows Serie A, though, the same can’t be said of the league office, who today released a steaming turd of a statement about the conduct of Lazio fans before their match against AC Milan in the Coppa Italia.
For those of you who don’t recall, Tiémoué Bakayoko (who is black) endured 90 minutes of racist abuse from the Lazio ultras last week. It’s easy to say, “Oh, it’s just Lazio. Everyone knows that they’re fascists.” But they took that a step farther, too, lining up with a banner honoring Benito Mussolini ahead of the match as well. Again, if you’re not utterly disgusted, there is something wrong with you.
Lazio fans shouting “Honour to Benito Mussolini” and doing fascist salutes in the streets of Milano ahead of Milan-Lazio— Milan Eye (@MilanEye) April 24, 2019
another episode of the Laziale’s racist act after racially abusing Bakayoko at the stadium TWICE without @FIGC blinking an eyepic.twitter.com/DwClVQpCLk
It’s not just Lazio, though. Cagliari ultras jeered Juventus striker Moise Kean for his skin color, despite the fact that he’s Italian and a member of the national team. When the youngster scored a decisive late goal and celebrated by facing down the ultras, he received criticism from even his own dunderheaded teammate Leonardo Bonucci and dunderheaded coach Max Allegri for “provoking” the bigots in the home end, which is just the dumbest goddamn thing.
Fiorentina fans are not perfect. They got into a fight with Bergamo police ahead of the Atalanta tie in the Coppa Italia and have engaged in the regional discrimination that still haunts Italy. As far as I know, though, there haven’t been many reports of the Viola tifosi being racist, a fact about which I feel a certain pride.
And that’s super messed up. The baseline of human interaction, in which we respect other people’s humanity, should not be cause for pride. It shouldn’t even be cause for thought. It should be natural, automatic, simple as breathing air. I hate that these dickheads have taken that away from me: that I can’t consider “not being racist as hell” as a given. As a white man, I can only imagine how much worse it is for anyone who doesn’t share my status and has to face this putridity head on.
It’s very easy, of course, for us to be disgusted from afar. After all, what does the outrage cost me, sitting 5600 miles away and banging away on a keyboard? I’m never going to see any of these people. I’m never going to experience it. The stakes are low for me, and I’m very luck that such is the case. Even if I wanted to get more involved, I can’t very well do so. Again, this is something happening on the other side of the world, among strangers, in a country and a language and a culture that are not my own. The stakes are low partly because I’m powerless to do anything about it.
All I can do, and all most of us can do, is shame these vile humans for their actions. In the stadia, on the streets, on the internet, and everywhere we go, we can’t just look at these idiot Lazio fans and say, “What a bunch of awful racists.” We have to stand behind that, both as fans in the calcio community and as people who live on this stupid, fractured planet. We have make it obvious that such behavior is unacceptable. The ultras are not likely to change, but if Serie A itself is complicit, we, as consumers of Serie A’s product, have to take action.
Fuck these dumbasses.