In all my years as a sports journalist, I have heard crowds chant derogatory things toward opposing teams.
But, never have I experienced what I heard at the Giuseppe Meazza on Wednesday.
Throughout the match, Inter faithful lobbed what can only be called racist chants at Napoli midfielder Kalidou Koulibaly and it was disgraceful.
Referring to the Senegalese player as a monkey is nothing short of distasteful and disrespectful and to let it go without some kind of rebuke from the club is just the same as endorsing the behavior.
Koulibaly was sent off in the 80th minute after receiving his second yellow card of the match and sarcastically applauding the referee for giving him the card. That led to a red card which proved to be the turning point in an otherwise exciting match.
It led to Lautaro Martinez scoring the game-winner in extra time to erase a five-match winless streak for the Nerazzurri.
But, the actions of the crowd were something that other Interisti should be ashamed of.
“There was a strange atmosphere, as we asked three times for play to be suspended, they had announcements with the speaker three times,” said Napoli manager Carlo Ancelotti, following the match.
His claim was that Koulibaly was more aggressive because of the chants being levied in his direction by the San Siro crowd.
“Koulibaly was certainly irritable. Usually, he is very calm and professional, but he was subjected to monkey noises throughout the game,” Ancelotti said. “We asked three times for some action to be taken, but the match continued. We keep being told play can be halted, but when? After four or five announcements?”
Koulibaly sent out a strong message via Twitter following the match:
Mi dispiace la sconfitta e sopratutto avere lasciato i miei fratelli!— Koulibaly Kalidou (@kkoulibaly26) December 26, 2018
Però sono orgoglioso del colore della mia pelle. Di essere francese, senegalese, napoletano: uomo.
⚽ #InterNapoli 1-0
“I’m disappointed by the defeat, but above all at leaving my brothers,” Koulibaly said. “But I am proud of the colour of my skin. Proud to be French, Senegalese, Neapolitan: Man.”
And it isn’t like this is the first time we have seen this happen, not only with Inter Milan, but in Serie A. In fact, it was Koulibaly who was subject to racist chants during the match with Juventus that led to sanctions against the Old Lady back in October.
The bottom line is that there is no place for these actions at the Meazza, in Serie A or in football globally.
“Maybe we have to take matters into our own hands next time and stop play ourselves. They’ll probably make us lose the game if we walk off, but we are prepared to do it,” Ancelotti said. “It’s not good for Italian football, seeing this.”
Governing bodies and clubs need to take stronger action against this kind of behavior leading up to and including banning fans for these kinds of things.
If this is truly supposed to be a beautiful, global game, then fans, clubs and associations need to start acting like it.
What do you think? Post your comments below!