As Fiorentina fans, we usually have the privilege to play the it-wasn’t-me card (not that we should aspire to be Shaggy) whenever Serie A racism rears its ever-ugly head, on account of us usually not being directly involved. While there’s never an excuse to turn a blind eye to hate speech, we often do in order to justify our fandom. Play was halted in the 75th minute of Sassuolo-Fiorentina due to racist chants from the visiting section of Mapei Stadium. Even if these chants aren’t coming directly out of our mouths, we are implicated—the racist Viola fans are using their platform as Viola fans to espouse their racist ideology.
Thankfully, we also have a platform as Viola fans to talk about how stupid, misguided, and hurtful it was for our fans to shout racist obscenities at Sassuolo’s Alfred Duncan.
No matter how much we want to pretend it was just a couple idiots, it takes more than a couple idiots to stop a Serie A match. Not only that, but everyone in the stands has an obligation to not let that kind of behavior slide. These fans shouldn’t have to be told to stop being racist over the stadium speakers like they’re a bunch of schoolchildren.
Unfortunately, our only course of action is to hope this message gets to Florence and more Fiorentina fans begin to speak up against the racism in Serie A. Anti-racist sentiments need to be more present in Italian stadiums than racist ones. We are a long way from seeing that happen, but we’d love nothing more than to see Fiorentina leading that charge. And no, just saying #NoToRacism on behalf of the league isn’t enough.
Let’s be brutally honest here. We participate in a league where the loudest groups of fans think that monkey chants directed at a black player are a “form of respect”. It’s really not that difficult to be morally respectable compared to everyone else. At some point, everyone is going to have had enough with Serie A’s racist nonsense. We all know Italy is behind the curve when it comes to punishing racist behavior, and if Fiorentina wants to become a global brand, taking a real stance here is going to win a lot of people over.
Compared to the other club owners in Serie A, Rocco Commisso has been swift and loud in his disapproval of racist fans. If we want any of the powers that be to take real steps towards solving the endemic racism in Italian soccer, Rocco is probably our best bet. The league has been embarrassingly silent on most counts, and most owners have bent the knee to their racist ultras. There’s little to be prouder of than making positive social change, and Fiorentina is in a position to do that. Let’s show the ownership that we want to be fans of the team that spearheaded the end of racism in Serie A.
Small steps first though. If you need to hear this, you really shouldn’t be allowed in a stadium in the first place, but nonetheless: DON’T SAY RACIST THINGS. It’s really easy, I promise.