Kalidou Koulibaly Serie A Racism FIGC

Kalidou Koulibaly seems like a decent lad to be fair. Did you see that video of him organising the defence for napoli this season? The one where he literally shoves his teammate towards the ball? Love a bit of that. If Phil Jones tried that, he’d probably shove David De Gea into the net.

I dislike him for allowing Mohamed Salah to waltz past him for Liverpool. Once again the bloody Scousers will not stop crowing about those “famous Anfield European nights”. I suppose when you’re starved of domestic success for nearly three decades, you turn to Europe. Koulibaly is an absolute beast of a defender, and I had hoped he’d deny the predictable love-in.

Kalidou Koulibaly racism storm

What he doesn’t deserve though is the disgusting abuse he received in Serie A this week. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what the worst part about the affair is. Is it the fact that these racist noises are far from uncommon? Is it the glossing over of it by fans and officials? Is it the referee for ignoring pleas to take action three times?

Just in case you’re unaware of the basics, this all kicked off when Napoli played Inter on Boxing Day. Ten minutes from the end a section of Interisti supporters chanted blatant racist abuse at the Senegalese after he was shown two yellow cards in quick succession. The second was given for Koulibaly’s sarcastic applause. If truth be told, the abuse had started beforehand, unsettling the Napoli man.

This isn’t a competition in fuckwittery, so I dearly hope you picked up on the partially facetious tone just above. There is one utterly outrageous part that should enrage even the most phlegmatic amongst you though.

A two-game ban… but why?

The Federazione Italiana Giuoco Calcio (FIGC) stamped down hard by implementing a two-game ban. For Inter fans, AND Koulibaly, that is. As if a regulation one-game ban for the red card was not enough, it was extended for his reaction to being booked initially.

Hang on, let’s backtrack a moment there: two games behind closed doors, and that’s it?? Yep, well done FIGC, you really socked it to the racists cunts didn’t you? Bet those ignorant pigs are cowering in the corner of their nationalistic headquarters in fear. ‘Hang on lads, I think we had better rethink our philosophy next time we see a black player.’

There are two angles to consider here. Firstly, what the hell is a two-game ban supposed to achieve? Not even just for racist incidents, but for anything. It punishes all fans, the majority of whom I would like to believe are not bigoted idiots. Clubs might lose a small chunk of change in matchday income, but it’s hardly going to encourage them to bother taking action.

Don’t forget of course that they save on the upkeep of the stadium and security costs. Lost income means very little to many major club owners anyway, most of whom have bottomless pits of money.

Secondly, and as you know I LOVE to fight fair, the major issue recognising where the major issues stems from. Football is a major societal force, but it isn’t society itself. Racism is a blight on society in the widest sense, and cannot be pinned on a sport. To eradicate racism from stadia, it must be eradicated from society first.

Racism’s deeper roots

John Barnes recently appeared eloquently on BBC Breakfast explaining this very point.

“Racism isn’t just in football. We can’t compartmentalise it and say it’s in the police, or it’s in football, because it absolves the rest of society. What football can do is say: ‘If there are any racist chants, we’re going to kick you out of the ground.’ The only way to tackle [racism] is to tackle the cause, not the symptom.”

I’d go a step further and say that imposing punishments within the sport is almost a step backwards. If authorities are seen to be dealing with an incident, the problem is swept under the rug. Barnes is right though: this is far deeper than football’s remit.

The real problem will only begin to subside when enough people actively choose to condemn those around them. In the Raheem Sterling incident at Stamford Bridge, the vitriol practically erupted out of the abuser’s veins. In what other public situation would that level of bile be seen? And yet those around him stood silent.

We could be here all day discussing the ills of society, and a worthy discussion it would be. What we can start with is the laughable nature of punishments. Screw fines of stadium bans, hit clubs where it hurts: points deductions. It theoretically has the added bonus of acting as a simultaneous fine anyway with lower prize money.

There is only so much football itself can do, but that doesn’t mean there is nothing.