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Acknowledging this Kokorin business

As much as we’d prefer not to talk about this, we need to

ACF Fiorentina president Rocco Commisso walks in front of... Photo by Andrea Staccioli/LightRocket via Getty Images

In the world we live in, it’s impossible not to maintain some degree of separation between our values and the things we love. Whether it’s football, music, movies, travel, or anything else—the institutions behind our favorite things never fail to disappoint us. In our case, these disappointments are usually obscured enough from the pitch for us to disregard them and enjoy Fiorentina like we have the right to. Occasionally though, some particularly egregious acts of negligence take center stage and give you no other choice but to acknowledge them.

This is no excuse for any other wrongdoing in which Fiorentina is complicit, and we all should continue to call those transgressions out as we see them. However, asking your fans to sacrifice their conscience in order to continue dedicating their time and their love to this team is a complete betrayal of their trust.

Four days ago, on January 21, 2021, Fiorentina finalized the signing of Aleksandr Kokorin, a Russian striker from Spartak Moscow. Kokorin’s rap sheet of despicable behavior is not only extensive, but incredibly recent. His most notable incident is described below:

This is proven, documented behavior that merits a lifetime ban from football, let alone any legal repercussions (of which he did face prison time for). As fans, we should never be expected to look past our club’s complete and utter failure to condemn racially-motivated violence. Allowing Aleksandr Kokorin to wear the Fiorentina shirt is a signal that we stand in solidarity with those who commit hate crimes, and against those committed to dismantling them. This identity has been forced upon us without our consent, and we do not deserve having to justify our support of a team that has explicitly identified itself as an accessory to the violent perpetuation of racism.

Fans of any sports team are constantly asked to tolerate an endless amount of nonsense and deceit from those in power, but they do so with smiles and passion and forgiveness because their team means something to them. That something for us is the memory of our late Captain Davide Astori, the unforgettable legacy of Gabriel Batistuta, and the lofty dreams we attach to the young Khouma Babacars and Gaetano Castrovillis of Fiorentina’s past, present, and future.

This is the essence of what it means to be a Fiorentina fan, and it is unforgivable to impose on us the impossible task of reconciling that with what it means to sign Aleksandr Kokorin. Put simply, he cannot be allowed to wear the Viola shirt at the expense of our values.