Racism in Italy: “No more excuses, no more inaction”07 October 2019

Fareco-organisedahighlevelroundtableonracisminfootballinRometoday(7October).TheeventtookplaceatUNAR,theItalianNationalAnti-discriminationbodyinco-operationwithUISP(theItalianSportforAllAssociation).

Read what the Chair of the Fare board John Olivieira told the event.

“As you know Fare is a multinational NGO working in over 40 countries across Europe, Latin America and beyond.

This week we kick-off our biggest set of single activities, the #FootballPeople weeks. We aim to have 150,000 people directly involved in over 60 countries.

We are pleased to be in Rome, a bit relieved and a little bit anxious.

Relieved that there are these types of exchanges finally taking place on the issues of racism in Italian football. And anxious because there have been so many negative things taking place it is difficult to see how we can work through the issues with no involvement from the governing bodies. The people in power.

To be clear and open with you, everywhere across Europe people are asking what is going on in Italy. They are looking on in puzzlement and wondering when the stream of stories will end.

– the stories of fans making monkey chants
– of senior leaders at clubs questioning if what we hear is racism,
– of confused regulation (when will the FA and Serie A actually take decisive action?)
– of crazy fan manifestos that declare their own racism is being used to oppress them
– of confused and damaged young players who are abused every week.

The questions go on. The situation is bleak and it reflects badly on Italy. Not just on football in Italy.

We are here to help bring about change. But that change that can only come from within. Italy is not the only country to face these problems but the issues it has are the worst in the big five leagues.

I know that for some of you the situation in amateur football is also of major concern. The levels of abuse in amateur football are unacceptable across Europe. One thing I have observed is that what happens at the top trickles down, if you have unchallenged abuse inside the stadiums of Serie A in my opinion that will lead to abuse lower down.

Referees watch the inaction of their colleagues in professional football; kids watch what players do; parents and spectators watch the crowds; and league officials think if it’s not being challenged in the sport of millionaires and billion dollar sponsorships, why should they draw a line?

Let’s work top down and bottom up. And let’s be clear, without action at the top it is much more difficult to get change at the bottom.

We think a campaign is needed – a campaign that can lead to action, public awareness, education and engagement with all actors. We can help to frame it, plan actions and give other support. It needs to be serious, long term and involve everyone.

We also think that the terms of a new engagement, new ideas, A NEW DRIVE is needed. What has happened so far has not been good enough.

We have seen the new FA regulations, sorry to be negative, but I can’t see how they will work? The FA seems to be handing responsibility and its leverage to the clubs. We have seen what works in Europe and this type of passing the buck does not. FAs need to be clear and strong about their approach.

In the final analysis I am optimistic, you cannot keep abusing people, defiling their identity without change coming. If it doesn’t come from within it will come from outside, from FIFA and Uefa taking charge. They will wake up and tell Italy to do more.

I look forward to our discussions, and look forward to the action we can take in the future.

But please no more excuses, no more inaction. The governing bodies of football may not be here, it doesn’t matter. This meeting should be the start of a detailed strategy and action. The start of some change.”