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Sulley Muntari’s One-Match Ban After Being Racially Abused Is A Disgrace

Italian football has a crisis on its hands and I’m not even sure they realize how serious it is. For the better part of a decade now, with the exception of Juventus, Italy’s Serie A has been in decline. League officials would like to blame the country’s aging stadiums or the lack of a lucrative television deal - and those are valid points - but the real issue is much more serious. 

Italy does not have a football problem. Italy has a race problem. 

Over the years there have been numerous instances of racist chanting coming from sections of ultras in Italian stadiums, most recently at Cagliari when visiting Pescara midfielder Sulley Muntari was the target of racial abuse. Mario Balotelli has even been abused by Italian fans when representing the national team.

Let’s be clear: we are talking about a minority of Italian fans with whom this is an issue. But with how poorly these cases have been handled by Italian football’s governing body, the FIGC, a shadow has been cast over the whole country. 

Mario Balotelli

Italy's Mario Balotelli. Photo: @SPORTSCIRCUSINT | Twitter


Take the recent case of Cagliari. According to a report from ESPNFC, the FIGC has decided not to punish the club because the abuse was coming from a small group of supporters. Conversely, Muntari - the target of the racial abuse - was shown a yellow card by the referee for his complaints and received a one game suspension for leaving the pitch in protest. Are you kidding me?

So much more could have been done. For example, the game could’ve, and should’ve, been stopped to address the issue right there and then. But without any official support, Muntari left and the game carried on. 

Sulley Muntari

Sulley Muntari confronts the Cagliari supporters. Photo: @BBCSport | Twitter

FIGC: if you do not correct the problem, you are condoning it. 

Italian football must show that it is willing to take a strong stance against racism. The FIGC needs to instruct its referees to evaluate the situation when these problems arise and consider stopping matches to make an announcement and allow security personnel to remove the guilty fans from the stadium. 

Yes, this could be a significant stoppage, but that is okay, because racism is a serious problem that requires a serious solution. Following such an event, if the home club does not help to address the situation in the moment, the FIGC must consider deducting points in the league table. Is that harsh on the majority of the people involved with the club? Maybe. Probably. But maybe it would lead to a time when we did not have to have address such a problem. 

If the FIGC and Serie A continue to downplay or ignore this issue, the league will suffer. It is only a matter of time before more and more black players pursue opportunities to play in European leagues that offer atmospheres of tolerance and respect - two things that should be a given in 2017. 

Related: SC Bastia Deserve To Be Relegated After Fans' Racial Abuse Of Mario Balotelli

Mario Balotelli

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