Squadra Azzurra on board with Italy Week Against Racism04 April 2013

The Italian football squad last month met a group of youngsters to underline a stand against racism in Italy. The group included political refugees, asylum seekers and the children of immigrants in a symbolic gesture to underline the necessity for co-existence.

“Expel racism from football” was the motto of the action at the gathering in Coverciano in Florence organised by FARE partner the Italian (UISP) with the FIGC, the Italian FA as part of the country’s Week Against Racism.

Buffon, improving relations
According to Gianluigi Buffon, captain of Italy’s National team, the meeting was a small step towards improving relations towards the co-existence between the country’s citizens.

UISP president Filippo Fossati referred to the fact that Italian courts often do not even recognise racism as a phenomena,. “The fight against racism should occur everywhere, from the football pitches to the courtrooms. The use of racial slurs must become a crime punishable by law.”

“Parliamentarians must work towards this goal, the networks of volunteers and associations must also do their part and continue pushing institutions in this direction,” he added.

On the 21 March at a friendly match against Brazil in Geneva, the Italian team took a banner against discrimination onto the pitch.

During the week several reports on Italian television were made to promote multiculturalism in sport and a short film was completed with the Jewish community on the Azzurri visit to the concentration camps of Auschwitz.

The event was part of new determination by the Italian FA to take a harder line on racism within Italian football. In February sociologist Mauro Valeri, who has been monitoring racism in Italian football for over a decade, revealed to CNN that there have been over 660 racial incidents since 2000.

He said, “In Italy, no club has a real anti-racist strategy, because it believes the fight against racism is not a priority. Since the early 1990s, many curves of the stadium have been occupied by neo-Nazi and neo-Fascist groups, but this problem has been addressed only as a problem of public order.”