Cristiano Ronaldo, Liverpool And Manchester City Stars Issue Messages Of Support For Napoli's Kalidou Koulibaly
The return to St Stephen’s Day football in the Italian top tier for the first time since 1971 will now be remembered for all the wrong reasons.
The San Siro and the Serie A match between Inter Milan and Napoli was the setting for yet more unpleasant scenes as once against racism failed to be curtailed and unfortunately Napoli’s Kalidou Koulibaly took the brunt force of it.
Senegal international Koulibaly, or ‘K2’ as he’s affectionately known, was subject to disgusting, moronic chants from a certain section of the Internazionale crowd infiltrated with so-called ‘ultras’.
"Monkey chants" were heard throughout the match from the Inter support in his direction and Koulibaly was eventually sent off after receiving two yellow cards – the second for sarcastically applauding referee Paolo Silvio Mazzoleni – after the 80th minute, with the home side eventually seeing out a 1-0 win against the 10-men.
The Napoli defender has been given a two-match man nonetheless, in a move that doesn’t shine the most positive light on the FIGC (Italian Football Federation) who have failed once again to take a hard stance against racism. It has emerged that the rule in Italy is that if fans are given a warning and still they abuse the player, the game should be called off. (FootballFactly)
On Wednesday night in Milan, Inter fans were given three warnings but persisted with their verbal abuse of Koulibaly. The game went on.
Koulibaly’s manager Carlo Ancelotti has declared that if any of his players had to suffer that level of abuse again during a match he will force his side off, even if it means forfeiting the result. Ancelotti had asked for the match to be suspended beforehand following clashes between supporters that left one fan dead.
As punishment for the alleged racist abuse, Inter Milan will play two home league games behind closed doors. The Nerazzurri will also play a third match at the San Siro without opening the 'curva' section of the ground, where the ultra fans are known to congregate (BBC Sport).
With their side winning 1-0 - through an extra time winner - , taking the three points, and additionally the ‘icing on their cake’ of seeing the target of their vitriol being sent off it seems however the scum support have had the last laugh.
However the leniency of the repercussions on Inter Milan has been greeted with condemnation from the football community with a number of players expressing support for Koulibaly on social media.
Cristiano Ronaldo - now of Napoli's Serie A rivals Juventus - wrote in Italian underneath a picture of the two together on Instagram:
"Education and respect are needed in the world and in football. No to racism and to any offence and discrimination"
Liverpool star and incumbent PFA Player of the Year Mohamed Salah (@MoSalah) captioned a picture of him playing against K2 in a Champions League match with;
"There’s no place for racism in football. There’s no place for racism anywhere at all."
Koulibaly’s international teammate Sadio Mane issued a message via Instagram which said,
“I am bitter not to say bruised and dismayed by what you have experienced.
“But I know you well enough that these abominable acts will not reach you at all.
“We are proud of our race and we will continue to defend it as we defend the colours of our homeland.
“You reminded the world that identity does not compartmentalize.”
Manchester City captain Vincent Kompany (@VincentKompany) also expressed his outrage and brought to attention that the incident is far from limited to Italian football;
‘Really!? Koulibaly racially abused at San Siro. Raheem Sterling at Stamford Bridge.. This is unacceptable! Elected politicians set the tone with divisive rhetoric granted but some level of reason has to return! Respect Ancelotti and Napoli teammates for post match comments.”
Koulibaly’s teammate Dries Mertens (@dries_mertens14) selected a picture of the two together and unabashedly stated;
"You’re one of the most beautiful people I know, please never change. Don’t react to this b*llshit. Let’s stand together! #notoracism”
Koulibaly, demonstrating the exact character as to why he’s identified as one of best footballers in the world himself declared in the immediate aftermath of the atrocious incident;
“I'm proud of the colour of my skin. To be French, Senegalese, Neapolitan, and a man.”