Sampdoria President, Massimo Ferrero has reportedly insulted Inter owner, Erick Thohir. Ferrero is quoted in Gazzetta dello Sport as stating the following: "È venuto dall'Indonesia per insultare un emblema del calcio" or the Indonesian has insulted an emblem of calcio. His statement then takes on a racist twist as he tries to backpedal from the original insult by stating, "Non volevo mancare di rispetto a Thohir, all'Inter e alla gente delle Filippine" or that he meant no disrespect to Thohir, Inter, or all Filipino people.
Here is the original Gazzetta dello Sport article in Italian with the accompanying video (also in Italian) where Ferrero stated, "kick out that Filipino."
The English translation of what transpired can be found here from the BBC.
While one may not agree with Thohir’s strategy and plans for Inter, it has nothing to do with race or ethnicity. It is insulting and racist that Ferrero has reportedly lay the blame of Thohir’s actions on an entire ethnic population group.
First of all, Ferrero was incredibly disrespectful in stating that Thohir should be kicked out.
Secondly, Ferrero mistakenly called Thohir a Filipino. Thohir is Indonesian. For those of you who are unaware, Indonesia and the Philippines are two entirely different countries. If you need an education in Asian geography, please click here (a map of Asia from Worldatlas.com).
Additionally, to blame an entire ethnic group on the actions of one individual is ridiculous. To blame a race due to the actions of one individual is not only ridiculous but racist. Even though Ferrero tried to apologize to the Filipino people (again, Thohir is Indonesisan), the damage is already done.
While it is understandable that one should be able to express their opinions about the club’s direction or misdirection, it is never acceptable to target an individual based on his or her ethnicity and more so blaming an entire nationality on the actions of one individual.
Let me be clear, do not make this an opportunity or an excuse to target Indonesians, let alone all Asians in general, because one may differ in how Thohir is running the club. In other words, do not be racist.
While Sampdoria's official statement seemed apologetic, it does not change the fact that this type of racist mentality is rampant within calcio. It would be nice to think that maybe such a racist statement may result in league sanctions but with its own leader facing a six month ban after UEFA concluded an investigation due to racist allegations made by him during his election campaign (yes, before he was elected), one should not hold one’s breath.
According to the UEFA sanctions, not only is Tavecchio banned from all UEFA events for six months but he is also supposed to hold some type of anti-racism awareness event. This would be the perfect opportunity in trying to combat this internalized racism that seems to continue to have a stranglehold on Italian football. Although this would be the perfect situation to try and remedy racist antics, I am not hopeful that anything will come about from it, whether it be dialogue, discourse, an anti-racism awareness event, and least of all some type of punishment.
(Click here for the Telegraph's article on Tavecchio's six month UEFA ban).
Within a few short months, the newly elected FIGC President, Tavecchio called African players, "banana eaters" and the Sampdoria President stated "kick out that Filipino."
When will these racist antics stop?
If calcio is to strive to once again become a leader in world football then Italy needs to stamp out racism once and for all.
*Note here is my editorial on Tavecchio's appointment and ironically, Inter's show of public support of the new FIGC leader, A Disheartened and Disappointed Interista.
**Here is the conciliatory statement in Italian from Sampdoria’s official website.