Growing up, one of the key lessons taught to me was “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it at all”. I wish the Inter Ultras had been taught the same lesson. It would have been great to see real support from the Curva Nord for Romelu Lukaku and his call for real action in the wake of the racist abuse he suffered from the Cagliari fans, but sometimes we expect too much. Saying nothing would have been disappointing, but what that the Ultras decided to do is much, much worse.
The following quotes are taken from the official statement from the Curva Nord, followed by what they are really trying to say.
What they said: “We are really sorry you thought that what happened in Cagliari was racist.”
What they meant: “You clearly don’t understand what racism is. Don’t worry, we’ll explain it to you.”
What they said: “You have to understand that Italy is not like many other north European countries where racism is a REAL problem.”
What they meant: “Only those filthy NORTHERN countries do racist things, like…making animal noises at black players.”
What they said: “In Italy we use some ‘ways’ only to ‘help our teams’ and to try to make our opponents nervous, not for racism but to mess them up.”
What they meant: “We only make monkey chants at black people because it makes them concerned for their safety. How is that racist?”
What they said: “Please consider this attitude of Italian fans as a form of respect for the fact that they are afraid of you for the goals you might score against their teams and not because they hate you or they are racist.”
What they meant: “Monkey chants aren’t racist. They are a form of respect. That is why we also do it to all the opposing white players.”
What they said: “We are very sensitive and inclusive with all people. We guarantee you that in our organization there are many fans of different races or fans coming from other parts of Italy that also use this ways to provocate their opponents even when the have the same races or are coming from the same areas.”
What they meant: “We have black friends, so we definitely are not racist. Our black friends even make monkey chants at other black people, so it CAN’T be racist.”
What they said: “Please help us to clarify what racism really is and that Italian fans are not racist.”
What they meant: “If you don’t back us up we are DEFINITELY making monkey chants at you next home match.”
What they said: “The fight to REAL racism has to begin in schools not in the stadiums, fans are just fans and they behave in different ways when inside the stadium as opposed to when they are in real life.”
What they meant: “We’re only racist in a big, safe group. We definitely wouldn’t be racist openly, when people could identify us. We’d feel much better being racist anonymously. “
What they said: “I guarantee you that what they do or say to an opponent player of another race is not what they would ever say to someone they would meet in real life.”
What they meant: “We are literally terrified of the fact that you are bigger and stronger than us, so no need to talk to us face to face about it.
The Ultras statement is appalling. Feeling the need to make a statement of support for fans of another team who made racist chants is bad enough. To then turn the tables on the victim and claim that his response paints people in a bad light is not only disingenuous but it proves Lukaku correct.
This official statement says a great deal about the members of this group and the way they feel about racist conduct. It is almost sad to hear their stereotypical defenses of racism.
Almost. More than anything, it is an example of how pervasive the issue of racism is in Italian football, especially in regards to Ultra culture. With this statement, the Ultras have clearly decided to stand with the racists rather than a member of the club they claim to support, a club that was built upon the idea of diversity and inclusivity. The racists among us have banded together to create a united front against decency and tolerance.
If only Serie A could do the same. Instead, we have been met with the same cries of disapproval and calls for new initiatives that do not strike at the heart of the matter. Racists are infesting the stands of our stadiums, and words won’t be enough to end it. We need the teams and the league to take drastic action against these people.
Whether that be lifetime bans from the stadiums, or calling out these people in public for their abuse, their racism needs to be drowned out by support from the real fans of these clubs. I, for one, hope that a club named Internazionale can be the ones to lead the charge.