In the aftermath of Fiorentina’s defeat at Napoli, we’ve definitely learned a few things about the team. Unfortunately, we’ve also learned a few things about the away support, as Serie A has fined the Viola €10,000 for the discriminatory chants that the traveling fans leveled at their hosts.
While the despicable behavior of Juventus winger Douglas Costa has been at the forefront of public discussion these past few days, including whether or not Sassuolo defender Federico di Francesco, who has a bit of a questionable history himself, said something unforgivable (and allegation he vehemently denies), an mostly-unremarked incident like this needs to be called out and shamed as well.
It can be tough to figure out where the line is when you’re interacting with a sporting opponent. But there’s an obvious difference between banter and discrimination, and these Fiorentina supporters crossed it with insulting songs about Naples and Calabria. While that may seem like pretty standard fare for football supporters, the history of discord between northern and southern Italy gives such actions a lot more meaning than they might have elsewhere due to economic and cultural factors that stretch back for centuries. This isn’t a case of the lads getting a little over-excited and saying something mean; this is part and parcel with with the regional divides that have caused a lot of trouble in the country, facts of which every Italian is quite aware.
When I think of Fiorentina fans, the first thing that comes to my mind is the smart and thoughtful bunch of folks who comprise this online community. I like to imagine that all Viola fans resemble us in that regard, especially since the club’s supporters have historically been less violent than a lot of other fan groups on the peninsula. But no matter where you go, it’s an immutable law of human nature that any collection of humans will have some bad actors.
That’s not good enough to excuse the actions of those few jackasses, though, especially for a sports club. By choosing to support Fiorentina, we’ve all accepted the responsibility of representing the organization at some level. As fans, then, we need to demand better from ourselves and each other. I don’t think anyone reading this was yelling bad stuff at the San Paolo. I doubt any of us even know the offenders. That doesn’t let us off the hook, though. On the contrary, it means that we need not only to explain that Viola fans aren’t like that, but to prove it and shame those who try to make us liars until it’s true.