sabato 5 ottobre 2013

Italians who hate Italians

Sport justice obliged Milan to play last home match in a San Siro partially closed for discriminatory chants against Napoli. An umpteenth case of interregional racism, old Italian tradition

Last Saturday, Milan faced Sampdoria in a San Siro Stadium partially closed. A sport judge decision obliged Rossoneri to play one game with an area of the stadium "free from fans after some of their followers expressed an insulting, explicit and discriminatory chant towards an opposition player based on his origins". The "opposition player" in question was SSC Napoli, the main Italian southern team. Against Sampdoria, the "second ring-blue area" - the so-called Curva Sud - was deserted. Milan supporters wrote a public announcement as if they were a political association, denouncing "the denial of every rights" and recalling a legendary age of cheer, when football was free from the slavery of TV broadcasters. Then they met around the stadium to protest against sport justice and to reaffirm at the top of their voice their thought. A simple philosophy theorized by supporters of a northern team against a southern one. You can find there a mixture of common places that describe Napoli as a smelly city but you can find also a "hope message". "Wash them with the fire, Vesuvius, wash them with the fire", they proudly sang.  

Obviously, a sportive question in Italy is always a political one too. In this distressing history, a politician of Lega Nord (regionalist political party), used the occasion to declare: "This decision is a bullshit. And what about Neapolitans that dream of a burning Milan? I'm ready to climb over the wall of San Siro, to set foot on closed sector and to make a report against myself". No action followed his thought. His aim was to conquer a further space of media visibility.


In these last years, Italy is going to become a real multicultural society. Also if Mario Balotelli, Stephan El Shaarawy, Angelo Ogbonna are "the new Italians" who will play next Fifa World Cup, its football keeps on suffering from racism episodes for racial questions (Zoro, the same Balotelli, Boateng, etc.). The last case of San Siro remembers us how - historically - Italian football knew racism episodes for regional and local questions too. Beyond city and local derbies, other rivalries exist between northern and southern teams, reproducing - in football context - economical and political diatribes. For example, in the period of economic miracle (1960s), thousands of southern people moved to northern cities to work in their big industries. In Turin - the city of Juventus and Torino FC - native population exhibited the sign: "We do not rent to southern". This housing question is still an open wound in Italian social fabric. And it's not a case if last year, "State broadcaster RAI fired a journalist from its regional news service in Piedmont for a report judged offensive to Neapolitans before match between Juventus and Napoli. The report featured a clip of Juve supporters singing a chant telling Neapolitans to wash". 



We can list many cases of interregional racism (Milan vs Roma, Milan vs Genoa, Verona vs Catania, Vicenza vs Reggina etc.). Napoli, in any case, is the easy mark of northern supporters, a sort of national scapegoat usually tagged as "dirty, stinking, choleraic". In 1985 at Bentegodi Stadium, Hellas Verona's supporters even wrote "Welcome to Italy" to Neapolitan ones that, some years later, took their revenge, breaking the legend of Shakespeare  with an ironical "Giulietta is a bitch and Romeo is a cuckold".     



In years, sociologists, historians, journalists, politicians, intellectuals discussed about these questions that grow dangerously day by day. We ask ourselves: "Can we take seriously a stadium chant?". "How much is it important the concept of context in these cases?". "Can we downsize these facts?". "Must media give highlight the contemptible feats of minority groups?". Some years ago, Gianni Mura, important sport journalist of La Repubblica, wrote: "To define these fans ignorant or stupid is reductive. They are proudly racist". Can these words be a starting point? We are sure to beat your enemy, you must know it.


Thanks to our reviewer Noemi Stacconi


Thanks to Antonio Tortolano for the cooperation

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