Serie A’s 20 clubs acknowledge ‘serious problem with racism’

The Associated Press
Inter's Romelu Lukaku, left, celebrates after scoring a goal during the Italian Serie A soccer match between Torino FC and Inter Milan at the Olimpico Grande Torino stadium in Turin, Italy, Saturday, Nov. 23, 2019. (Di Marco/ANSA via AP)
Inter's Romelu Lukaku, left, celebrates after scoring a goal during the Italian Serie A soccer match between Torino FC and Inter Milan at the Olimpico Grande Torino stadium in Turin, Italy, Saturday, Nov. 23, 2019. (Di Marco/ANSA via AP)

MILAN (AP) -- All 20 Serie A clubs issued a joint statement on Friday “to publicly recognize that we have a serious problem with racism.”

The acknowledgment comes amid an Italian league marred by constant episodes of racist chants and discriminatory behavior.

“It’s a problem that we have not done enough to combat over the years,” the clubs said. “Images of players being racially abused in Italian football have been viewed and discussed all around the world this season and that shames us all.”

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Racist chants have recently been aimed at Romelu Lukaku, Franck Kessie, Dalbert Henrique, Miralem Pjanic, Ronaldo Vieira, Kalidou Koulibaly and Mario Balotelli. All the players targeted - except for Pjanic, who is Bosnian - are black.

England international Eniola Aluko, who will leave Juventus’ women’s squad following Saturday’s game against Fiorentina, said she experienced racism off the pitch in Italy.

“Sometimes Turin feels a couple of decades behind in terms of its general openness to different kinds of people,” Aluko wrote in a column for The Guardian.

“I have grown tired of walking into stores and feeling as if the owner expects me to rob the place. There is only so many times you can arrive at Turin airport and have the sniffer dogs treat you like you are Pablo Escobar.

“I have not experienced any racism from Juventus fans or within the women’s league, but there is an issue in Italy and in Italian football and it is the response to it that really worries me, from owners and fans in the men’s game who seem to see it as a part of fan culture.”

Aluko later added on Instagram, “I do not leave Juventus BECAUSE of racism, I leave because of many reasons which I have spoken about both positive and negative.”

The clubs’ statement said “no individual should ever be subjected to racist abuse – inside or outside of football – and we can no longer stay silent on this issue or wait for it to magically disappear.”

The teams added that “positive conversations” have been held in recent weeks with the Italian football federation and international experts “on how to tackle and eradicate this issue from the game.”

Serie A CEO Luigi De Siervo said the league is “ready to lead this campaign.”

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