“El negro es mejor que tú,” Albert Pla sang in a rumba that seemed to presage that talk that Luis Aragonés gave to Antonio Reyes in 2004. The musician told the story of Joaquín el Necio, a jealous husband convinced that his wife he cheated with a black man exclusively because of the size of his attributes. The cuckold decided to cut them off and, when noting their real dimensions, he realized that there was no problem. And that the infidelity was due, fundamentally, to the fact that the black was not an idiot like him. Aragonés spoke of Henry, who then played with Reyes at Arsenal. “Tell the fucking nigga that he’s better than him.” But “the black” was a legend, a smart guy like few in football and an example for the boys who grew up in the banlieue Parisian. A story similar to that of many players who every week go to the locker room listening to insults in one of the most primitive stands in Europe.
The first time we went to the Olympic, during a Roma-Juventus match, a child spent the game imitating the sound of the monkey every time Alex Sandro, the Juve side, played it. His father laughed thanked him and prodded him. And he, of course, was getting stronger and stronger. It is not the fault of the Roma stadium or its tifosi. It happens in almost everyone. Koulibaly, from Napoli, suffered recently in the Fiorentina field. But it is so common that Vlahovic, the fabulous Fiore center forward, also had to endure a few days before as the Atalanta stadium screamed “gypsy” at him as he tried to answer the journalist’s questions after the game. The images are sad. Vlahovic, who was raffled by half Europe, was in tears. But no one realized it until two weeks later, when a video was recovered. Nobody repaired while it was happening. Maybe because shouting “gypsy” is still less frowned upon than black.
The latest report from the players’ association pointed out a truism: Italy is not racist, but its stadiums are. 66% of cases occur from the stands. The rest, in the field. That which always remains in the locker room. The south of Italy is the area of the country where it happens the least and the one that receives the most insults: “Vesuvius, clean them with lava”, always sing the tifosi Juventus when they face Napoli. Rome, with 19% of the episodes, is the province where they grow the most.
The prosecution is now investigating the yelling at Koulibaly from two weeks ago. They called him “monkey shit.” A black man who, like Albert Pla’s, is surely also better than them in whatever facet he sets out to do. But it’s the same. It will come to nothing. And things will not change until they close the field to the team that has only one racist in the stands. And until the country realizes that its athletes, like Ebrima Darboe, the Roma player who came to Europe by boat, are Italian heritage. It happens that politicians like Matteo Salvini continue to wave the flag of hatred to recover in the polls what they do not earn with proposals: “To have a pizza in the country you have to get the vaccination certificate, but to disembark in Italy you do not need anything” He brayed again before a group of 5,000 fascists stormed the headquarters of Italy’s main union.
Salvini also opposed passing the IUS Soli, the law that would allow the granting of citizenship to children of immigrants born in Italy. Players like Balotelli or Moise Kean, in fact, did not have it until they were 18 years old, when they were finally able to show their talent with the colors of the Nazionale. What happens in the stadium stands, in the end, is also a reflection of what is heard during the week in the street (yesterday an article was known where the right-wing candidate for mayor of Rome qualified the Holocaust). Serie A now says that they are preparing very severe rules to eradicate this scourge. This week was the first time the issue was addressed at their assembly. But it is not clear how they will do it or if anyone will realize that part of the problem is in the echo of hatred that comes from outside the stadium.
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