The next time Inter Milan play at the San Siro, the north end of the stadium will be closed as a punishment for a section of Inter’s fans chanting racist abuse at Juventus players last weekend.
The Ghanaian, Kwadwo Asamoah, and the former Manchester United player, Paul Pogba, were the targets of a hateful mob – and not for the first time.
The Serie A season is in its infancy but this is the third incidence of racism in the Italian top flight in recent weeks. Lazio were punished after chanting during the Super Cup against Juventus and Roma were sanctioned for singing racist songs about some AC Milan players. Celtic’s Champions League opponents last night have been subjected to racism against their players on many occasions in recent times, Mario Balotelli being the target for sickening and sustained abuse in many grounds in Serie A. Balotelli might be an oddball and a bit of a pantomime villain but he is the most racially abused footballer of his generation and that fact does not get highlighted enough.
How grim then to find that his own club have faltered in this area also. At the end of July, Milan, along with Juventus and Serie A new boys, Sassuolo, took part in a pre-season tournament. In an incident that brought reminders of Kevin-Prince Boateng being abused, and then walking off, during a friendly against provincial team, Pro Patria, in January 2012, Milan’s Guinean international, Kevin Constant, was similarly subjected to chants and walked off the pitch to show his disgust.
Instead of supporting him, Milan criticised him. “Although the racist chants were offensive, he shouldn’t have left the pitch,” said Adriano Galliani, the vice-president of Milan. “In fact, he should have gone to the referee instead.”
He shouldn’t have had to go to the referee. The referee should have stopped the game and taken the players off the pitch until such time as the abusers were removed and their chanting silenced. How perverse that, having been at the centre of a hate mob because of the colour of his skin, Constant was then isolated again by his own club. Italian football is sick.