There are a number of things that it is okay to do in Italian football. Fans have made racist chants, Lazio fans have referenced the Holocaust, and the collective response from the Italian authorities is figuratively shrug their shoulders and tell the fans to “be better” and “to not do it again.”
The head of the FIGC federal prosecutor, Giuseppe Pecoraro has decided to request TV evidence from the Sporting Judge regarding the gesture by Bakayoko and Kessie mocking Acerbi. [ANSA] pic.twitter.com/GYQbjA2uE8— TheMilanBible (@TheMilanBible) April 14, 2019
However, when AC Milan’s Tiémoué Bakayoko holds aloft the shirt of Lazio defender Francesco Acerbi, after Acerbi had trash-talked him before the Milan victory over Lazio? Outrage. And now even the FIGC is involved.
Did Kessié and Bakayoko burn, spit on, step on, etc. Acerbi’s jersey? No. To their fans, they brought the jersey of a man who said his team was better than theirs, after they were victorious— Sabrina Belmonte (@SabriB10) April 14, 2019
Apparently the FIGC is too busy to figure out ways to combat racism in Italian football, but can take the time to “investigate” Bakayoko and Franck Kessie “mocking” Acerbi. Before the match, Acerbi had said that Milan were “weak” and that Lazio were going to win at the San Siro. After Milan won, and a scuffle broke out after the match, Bakayoko help up Acerbi’s jersey to the Curva Sud, where the hard-core Milan ultras sit. A gesture to the fans who bleed Rossoneri.
FIGC when fans are racist to black players:— Para (@Paracelsus) April 14, 2019
FIGC when black players do anything remotely untoward:
It makes me think that people would find no fault with this gesture if the two players where white, and quite frankly, that makes me sick to my stomach— Sabrina Belmonte (@SabriB10) April 14, 2019
This is the same FIGC which levied a farce of a punishment to Inter Milan fans for racist chanting towards Franck Kessie during the Derby della Madonnina. The same FIGC which did nothing after Juventus striker Moise Kean was the subject of racist chants and monkey noises playing against Cagliari.
The comments on Kessie’s latest Instagram are an absolute disgrace. Disgusting pic.twitter.com/qXOk0q0gy8— Hazem Zahab (@ZahabHazem) April 13, 2019
The FIGC has also not said anything about the racist Instagram comments by fans (allegedly mostly by Lazio fans) directed at Franck Kessie. And they will likely not say anything. Kessie and Bakayoko have even apologized to Acerbi, but the FIGC is still sticking their noses into the dispute.
Italian football struggles with how to deal with racism because the people who run Italian football really don’t seem to care. Cagliari’s president went so far as to dismiss the racist behavior by his team’s fans. Juventus captain Leonardo Bonucci even claimed that Kean “provoked” the racist chants. Bonucci backtracked after being called out by almost everyone who covers the game, but nonetheless, his first reaction was to try and make excuses for the racist abuse.
While the FIGC will almost certainly claim that there isn’t a racial component to the “investigation” towards the Milan players, it is telling that the two players that are being “investigated” and are rumored to be facing suspension are of African ancestry, while the Milan players who were standing around Kessie and Bakayoko, cheering as their two teammates lifted the jersey, have not been the subject of any “investigation” or criticism.
Serie A and Italian football deserve a FIGC which will actually take racism seriously and one that will not “investigate” two players holding up an opponent’s jersey.