‘I am ASHAMED as an Italian’: Giorgio Chiellini condemns ‘unacceptable’ racist abuse aimed at Napoli trio by Fiorentina fans as veteran insists ‘it is terrible publicity for Italy abroad’
- Giorgio Chiellini has expressed his shame in more racist abuse in Italy
- A trio of Napoli stars were racially abused by Fiorentina fans this season
- Chiellini says that racist incidents are ‘terrible publicity’ for Italy abroad
- The European champions are hoping to extend their unbeaten run this month
Roberto Mancini conjured with the idea of stretching his team’s 37-match unbeaten run beyond next year’s World Cup and Giorgio Chiellini marvelled at the energising properties of Euro 2020 glory.
But Italy‘s post-Wembley glow and their attempt to add the UEFA Nations League to their European title was clouded by an ugly outbreak of racist abuse from Fiorentina fans aimed at Napoli’s Kalidou Koulibaly, Victor Osimhen and Andre-Frank Anguissa on Sunday.
‘It’s unacceptable,’ said Chiellini. ‘I was ashamed as an Italian, as a Tuscan. It is shameful because in Europe people talk about Italy as a racist country and I don’t think it necessarily is.
Giorgio Chiellini says he was ‘ashamed as an Italian’ after more racist abuse in his country
‘Everyone needs to do more. It is terrible publicity for Italy abroad. We all need to make an effort but we need laws which are applied and enforced. That’s the most important thing.’
Chiellini, the elder statesman of Italian football, has started the season in strong form for club and country, rejuvenated by the thrill of success at Euro 2020 when Mancini’s team beat England on penalties in the final.
‘The memories are fresh and we still have the emotions in our minds and hearts,’ said the 37-year-old Italy and Juventus captain. ‘I did get a real boost and a lift in terms of energy over the last few months.
Napoli’s Victor Osimhen (L), Kalidou Koulibaly (R) and Andre Frank Anguissa (not pictured) were racially abused by Fiorentina fans over the weekend
The Italian defender, 37, said that racist incidents are ‘terrible publicity for Italy abroad’
‘It has given me a new lease of life. I’m really enjoying every single moment of my footballing old age. From 32, I’ve enjoyed it more than the previous years. We’ll see how far it will go on.’
The Nations League is in its second edition — Portugal were the inaugural winners in 2019 — and this year boasts a prestigious last four.
Italy take on Spain in Milan tonight, a repeat of the pulsating Euro 2020 semi-final, for the right to face the winners of Thursday’s semi-final between World Cup holders France and Belgium, ranked No 1 in the world, in Turin.
‘It’s a big prize for us and we want to win something,’ said Spain boss Luis Enrique, who hailed the Italians as the ‘best side in Europe’ and seemed to appeal to the laws of probability as he noted that ‘sooner or later’ they must lose.
Chiellini is hoping to extend the Azzurri’s unbeaten run after their Euro 2020 triumph
‘He is right, it will happen sooner or later,’ said Mancini, whose team have not been beaten since September 2019. ‘But we hope we can stay unbeaten deep into December 2022.’
This week’s Nations League matches will go ahead without the undercover observers of Football Against Racism in Europe (FARE) due to their stalemate with UEFA.
European football’s governing body are facing a race against time to strike an agreement with FARE, who provide independent and undercover monitors to identify fans who hurl offensive abuse at high-risk matches, with many more games set to go ahead unattended.
Around 80 matches have already taken place this season without FARE’s spotters, who would normally have been in the crowd for the Nations League finals to keep an eye on any incidents of discrimination.
The next round of European club fixtures in a fortnight could also throw up a number of games of concern, including Leicester’s trip to Spartak Moscow.
Elsewhere, UEFA are facing a race against time to strike an agreement with FARE, who provide assistance in identifying fans who hurl offensive abuse at matches
Rangers’ Europa League match at Sparta Prague last week was unmonitored and the Scottish champions’ midfielder Glen Kamara was targeted by the crowd. Kamara was booed having also been racially abused by Slavia Prague’s Ondrej Kudela last season, which resulted in a 10-game ban for the defender.
Kamara’s lawyer Aamer Anwar said: ‘It’s simply unbelievable that UEFA no longer has any independent observers at European matches when it is their role to report back on racist conduct.
‘This just shows after Glen Kamara the fight against racism for UEFA is nothing more than a PR exercise.’
TV: Italy v Spain, Nations League semi-final. Kick-off: 7.45pm, LIVE on Sky Sports Football.