September 23 – Racism in Italian football has become so bad that AC Milan have taken the step of launching an internal anti-racism task force.
The club says the body will be supported by “an external consultancy” and will “develop a programme of activities to increase awareness, monitor and address racist behaviour on social media and in the stadium, and drive the adoption of global best practices on diversity and inclusion.”
The move comes following reports of yet more racist chanting, this time directed at Milan midfielder Franck Kessie during the weekend fixture at Verona. That followed abuse meted to Romelu Lukaku at Cagliari earlier this month.
The new initiative will be launched during next Saturday’s derby against Inter Milan.
AC Milan chief executive Ivan Gazidis, who joined the club from Arsenal, said Italian football “needs to wake up and take a strong stance against racist behaviours.
“AC Milan will take a leadership position on this issue. We believe that we have a moral obligation to do everything we can to address this issue.”
FIFA president Gianni Infantino has meanwhile urged Italian authorities to hand out stadium bans for supporters guilty of racism after another incident in a Serie A match between Atalanta and Fiorentina on Sunday.
Play was briefly suspended after Fiore’s Brazilian wing-back Dalbert reportedly told referee Daniele Orsato he had been the target of racist abuse at the Stadio Ennio Tardini in Parma, where Atalanta are based while their ground is revamped.
An announcement was read over the stadium loudspeaker urging supporters to desist before the game continued, but Infantino believes the problem must be taken more seriously.
“Racism is combatted with education, condemnation and discussion,” the FIFA chief told Italian state broadcaster Rai. “You can’t have racism in society or in football. In Italy the situation hasn’t improved and this is serious.
“You need to identify those responsible and throw them out of the stadiums.”
Ironically, Infantino’s comments came almost exactly three years after FIFA disbanded its own anti-racism task force, declaring its work complete.
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