Words by Jason Sewald
Football; a sport most of us love and will continue to love because it defines a huge part of what we as individuals are. The teams we support, the players we love and even the rivals we loathe because they just keep on scoring. However, even with the sport we love, there are problems, big problems that keep on dragging the beautiful game down and it’s heartbreaking to see. For a bit more context what I am talking about is racism and more specifically the latest act of racism that Juventus footballing sensation Moise Kean had to endure.
Italy for the most part is wonderful, beautiful country with a rich and interesting history, but one thing that always bothered me is that their topflight league is full of racists. Again, for a bit more context, Juventus played Cagliari away on the 3rd of April 2019; you’d think that be a standard match, but sadly, it was far from that. It was reported that during the entirety of the match Moise Kean, who is only 19 years old, endured monkey chants from Cagliari fans and only for the chants to grow increasingly more angry and borderline violent after he scored and celebrated.
I will have to say the chants alone have got me angrier than I could describe, however, it was the aftermath that really tipped me over the edge. After the game Juventus player and Kean’s teammate Leonardo Bonucci offered some of the most useless opinions I have heard in a while by saying “I think the blame is 50-50”. Where do I even begin with this? First of all, a victim of racist abuse is never to blame. How could they? Secondly, the fact that your own teammate suffered from an ongoing problem and instead of offering help or protection, you simply dismiss it by saying he is partly to blame, which is just irresponsible. With Kean being only 19 years old, pretend Bonucci is right and Kean should have done something different, but a 19 year old is always going to be more driven by emotion rather than logical decision making. He is and will need players to guide him to become the best professional player he can be and the fact that Bonucci just literally left him hanging out dry by denouncing his action to the media shows me that not only the kind of person Bonucci is but also what a terrible leader he is. The same goes for Juventus manager Allegri too, by denouncing Kean’s actions he is just as much to blame as Bonucci.
Now a point I will also want to make is that this is not a unique incident for Italy. The Italian league has had countless incidents involving racial abuse. Mario Balotelli knows this too well and of course Kalidou Koulibaly. Now if you’re thinking why is this still going on, then the answer is simple – the Italian FA just don’t care enough. Their FA likes to denounce racist, however, when it comes to dishing out punishments, it is always a slap on the wrists fine and a game behind closed doors, and that simply isn’t good enough anymore. With the amount of incidents that have occurred last season alone, I would’ve banned the entire league from European competitions because that’s the only thing I could imagine making a dent in those thick racists skulls.
However, with as many problems that Italy has, I’m not going to sit on a high horse and pretend that it is a problem only in Italy. Other top leagues have been going through the same things such as in Spain, Germany and of course England. Racism as much as I want to pretend otherwise is just as bad over here in England as it’s in Italy, but the one key difference is that the English FA cracks down on it much harder than it does in Italy. Although it isn’t perfect, the fact that it is an issue that is constantly being made aware of by players and managers alike; Raheem Sterling and Gareth Southgate just to name two. Of course, there can and should be more, however, they are getting the ball rolling and hopefully it inspires more to do the same.
Lastly, I would like to leave on a positive note and the overwhelming support Kean has received from fellow players and fans on social media, seeing such a stand with a young player like him will greatly help is mentality and prove to himself that he was in the right where as the backlash that Bonucci is receiving for his ignorant comment will hopefully force him to take a look at himself and become a better person, player and teammate.