News

Africans As Monkeys: Italian Football’s Racism Problem

Racist harassment at the hands of Italian fans exposes football's continued racism problem.

Lazio fans are known to be some of the most racist in football. Image via Wikimedia
This past Wednesday, Lazio fans jeered the 24-year-old French born Senegalese defender Kalidou Koulibaly of the team Napoli with racist insults, prompting officials to suspend the game for three minutes. Lazio was later fined 50,000 Euros for the chants and the closure of the Curva Nord for two games.

The Lazio team manager, Stefano Pioli told Premium Sport, “It was chanting from the minority, but I don't think they were racist.” He continued, "We also have players of colour and they are treated well." A line strikingly similar to “but I have a black friend, so I can’t be racist.”


At the club’s training center, Napoli fans expressed support for Koulibaly, hanging a banner that read: "Be proud of your color Koulibaly. You're a true warrior."

Meanwhile in Greece, the power football can have to express solidarity and a concern for the plight of others was on display this past Friday. Players, coaches, officials and substitutes sat down on the field for two minutes to bring attention to the refugee crisis. A message was broadcast through the stadium’s PA system, “The administration of AEL, the coaches and the players will observe two minutes of silence just after the start of the match in memory of the hundreds of children who continue to lose their lives every day in the Aegean due to the brutal indifference of the EU and Turkey.”

Greek players stage a sit-down to protest the handling of the migrant crisis.
The incident at the Lazio vs. Napoli game is nothing new. Italian Football has been stage to unrelenting racism, usually directed at African players, and almost always evoking a pathetically tired monkey comparison.

Carlo Tavecchio in July of 2014, conjuring up a fictitious African player said, “Here we get Opti Poba, who previously ate bananas and then suddenly becomes a first-team player…In England, he must demonstrate his curriculum and his pedigree.”

Despite the comments Tavecchio was elected to be the president of the Italian Football Federation receiving only a light slap on the wrist for his remarks, which included a six-month ban from the Union of European Football Associations.

On the field, players like the Ghanaian Kevin-Prince Boateng, and his teammates walked away from a game in January of 2013, when Pro Patria fans imitated monkeys whenever Boateng had possession of the ball.

The racism isn’t confined to football. Italy’s first black cabinet minister, Cecile Kyenge, has had bananas hurled at her and been called an orangutan by Roberto Calderoli, a former Italian senator.

Wednesday's game ended with Koulibaly’s team Napoli winning the game two to zero.

popular
Filippo Monteforte/AFP via Getty Images)

The World Congress of Families is Expanding its Homophobic Agenda into West Africa

The far-right organization recently held a regional conference in Accra.

Last year, Ghanaians took to the streets to protest against laws criminalizing homosexuality. The protests were primarily in response to a 72-page report published by the Human Rights Watch which detailed how violence towards members of the LGBT community by mobs or their own family members was on the rise. Scores of protesters insisted that the country's Penal Code was not only a dated colonial-era relic but that it led to LGBT Ghanaians being treated as second-class citizens without basic human rights. While countries such as Botswana and Angola made huge strides this year and decriminalized homosexuality, Ghana's discriminatory laws have remained and lives continue to be affected because of it.

On November 1st, the World Congress of Families (WCF), a far-right organization that has been pegged a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, hosted a regional conference in Accra, Ghana. The two-day gathering included Ghana's political and religious leaders who subscribe to the conservative "pro-family" and "natural law" ideologies which condemn homosexuality, Islam, abortion and other reproductive health rights. There is increasing concern among members of the LGBT community, activists and allies, that LGBT people will experience even more targeted violence not only in Ghana but other African countries where homosexuality has still not been decriminalized.

Keep reading... Show less
popular
Gabriele Maltinti/Getty Images

Guinea-Bissauan Soccer Player Ronaldo Vieira Was the Target of Racist Chants During a Game

During a recent game at Sampdoria's Luigi Ferraris Stadium, visiting supporters chanted 'monkey' at the player.

Ronaldo Vieira is a Guinea-Bissauan soccer player who joined the Italian soccer team Unione Calcio Sampdoria (U.C. Sampdoria) as a midfielder last year. According to BBC Sport, the 21-year-old was unfortunately the target of racist slurs during a game against Associazione Sportiva Roma (A.S. Roma) at the Sampdoria's Luigi Ferraris Stadium in Genoa yesterday. After the first half of the game, fans of A.S. Roma began chanting "monkey" at the player. While Italian soccer authorities have generally condemned this recent incident and those in the past, the problem persists.

Keep reading... Show less
News Brief
(Photo by Jemal Countess/Getty Images for Global Citizen Festival: Mandela 100)

Tiwa Savage, Sauti Sol, 2Baba, Toofan & More to Perform at AFRIMA Music Village Festival

The star-studded event will take place ahead of the award show and includes a host of artists from across the continent.

The 6th annual All Africa Music Awards (AFRIMA) celebrations, which recognize African talent from across the continent, are set to take place between November 20-23 in Lagos, Nigeria. Several events will take place ahead of the award show, including the star-studded AFRIMA Music Village Festival which will feature performances from some of the top artists in the industry.

The show's lineup has just been announced and it features over 30 acts from all regions of the continent.

The AFRIMAs once again are not to be confused with the AFRIMMAs (African Muzik Magazine Awards) which took place in Dallas, Texas in October.

Here Are the Nominees For the 2019 AFRIMA Awards

Keep reading... Show less
popular

Khuli Chana Releases His Highly Anticipated Album ‘Planet of the Have Nots’

Listen to Khuli Chana's first album in seven years.

Khuli Chana's third studio album Planet of the Have Nots has arrived. The 13-track project features both members of his crew Morafe; Towdee Mac and Kaygizm. A-Reece, Cassper Nyovest, Maglera Doe Boy, Melo B and a few others.

Keep reading... Show less

get okayafrica in your inbox

news.

popular.