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Italian black footballer can teach political leaders… and his teams coach

The clashes between African immigrants and locals in the southern Italian town of Rosarno is not the only reason why Italy has made international news this week.

It was also the week when Mario Balotelli, the only Italian-born player in Inter Milan’s starting line-up, and the only black player on the pitch, took a stand against the regular racial abuse he has continued to suffer.

Disappointingly, Inter’s manager Jose Mourinho downplayed the abuse Balotelli received in the match against Chievo Verona, saying: “Let’s not make a drama out of this. You always hear things from the stands but, come on, Verona is a beautiful city.”

Verona, in the north, is miles away from Rosarno, at the tip of the country, but on the issue of racism they are united. An observation made by Vottorio Longhi in the Guardian, who connects the anti-immigration sentiment of Italy’s politicians with the violence backlash against African migrants.

By standing up against racist abuse Balotelli, an Italian Under-21 international, is doing what his country’s politicians and Inter’s manager Mourinho have failed to do. Say “no more – this is unacceptable.”

Brian Reade, writing in the Mirror, called Mourinho “gutless”, but in truth it is not merely one man’s spinelessness; it reflects a lack of courage to confront racism that plagues the entire country.

By Lester Holloway

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One Response

  1. I think what strikes me most in countries like Italy and Spain is whenever race is discussed it is always in relation to immigration and hardly in terms of Nationals of those countries who are from a different race to that of the majority, The rights of Black Nationals are totally ignored. Even when they are abused it is minimised and trivialised.When I talked to some of my white friends in those countries they try to justify this attitude by saying Black Nationals are not a problem. So they only talk about race when they have a problem they perceive as coming from Black residents.
    I know we have some way to go in Britain but we have made progress when I look at most countries in the continent.

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