MILAN — At the end of a football game last month in Forte dei Marmi, a coastal town in Italy’s Tuscany, an 11-year-old striker playing with AC Milan’s youth team walked off the field in tears. He wasn’t sad about the score: His team had just crushed France’s Paris Saint Germain, 4-0, moving on to the semifinals of a 48-team youth tournament.
The boy was crying because the parents attending the tournament had hurled racist insults at him and his four black teammates.
Italian football is popular all over the world, and the national team playing the game called soccer in the U.S. is tied with Germany for the most World Cup victories, trailing only Brazil. But in Italy the sport has an ugly side that distinguishes it among other European nations: the blatant racism displayed by many fans, players and coaches.
Episodes such as the one in Forte dei Marmi, and recent instances of racist statements by top figures in Italian football, are an alarming signal that while overt racist episodes in the sport are on the decline in other parts of Europe, the problem may only be getting worse in Italy. Continua a leggere