Goddammit. These fans. These fucking racist fans have, once again, dragged us into this bullshit again. I cannot believe that we have to publish another one of these stories, but the abhorrent behavior of Fiorentina fans means that we certainly do.
When Juventus came to Florence for the first leg of the Coppa Italia semifinal on Wednesday, we all anticipated an atmosphere of unrivaled passion, and that’s what we got. Despite the Artemio Franchi being reduced to 75% capacity, the volume and intensity of the supporters was obvious even through a computer screen thousands of miles away. The pre-match tifo display of Dante’s Inferno was incredible. The American commentary crew of Matteo Bonetti and Dre Cordero mentioned that, for the first time ever, they’d had to turn down the stadium noise microphones. It was wild.
The reason for this unprecedented ferocity from the fans was, of course, the return of Dušan Vlahović. After forcing his way to Juventus in January, there was never any doubt that the Viola supporters were going to give him a furious welcome in his first return to the Franchi, but they did it in the wrong way: with racist chants directed at Vlahović.
The worst part is that we all knew this was coming. A couple of months ago, fans left racist signs outside of Vlahović’s house after the news leaked out that he was leaving the club; doing so at someone’s residence only amplifies the threat of bodily harm that racism always implies. Besides being (and I cannot repeat this enough) indefensibly immoral, this sort of toxicity is always self-defeating, and not just because of the €10,000 fine the FIGC levied for this repugnance.
Even a few days before kickoff, Fiorentina released a statement anticipating racism and requesting that fans avoid it, but it was, clearly, to no avail. A lot of fans shouted racist abuse at Vlahović before, during, and after the game. To the Serbian’s credit, he remained focused and even comforted Lorenzo Venuti after the fullback’s heartbreaking own goal at the death.
Regardless, though, Vlahović deserves the respect and dignity due every human being. While it’s fine to whistle and boo him, there is never any reason, under any circumstances, to go from whistles and boos to racism. Fiorentina, both the club and its fans, ought to be ashamed. As I have written before, racism in any part of the fanbase means racism in the entire fanbase. If that makes you uncomfortable, then you need to go out and do something about it.