x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Holding vile 'Stand up if you want Balotelli dead' signs goes relatively unpunished at Juventus

The banners are not racist, but it doesn't make it right, writes Ian Hawkey. Refraining from one vile habit does not entitle someone to perform another.

Juventus players celebrate at the end of their Serie A match against AC Milan at Juventus Stadium. Giorgio Perottino / Reuters
Juventus players celebrate at the end of their Serie A match against AC Milan at Juventus Stadium. Giorgio Perottino / Reuters

The strong likelihood, following their 1-0 victory over AC Milan, is that Juventus will retain their scudetto in Turin within the next two Serie A matchdays. Most probably at home to Palermo in 11 days time.

Their latest match at the Juventus Stadium was disfigured by racist abuse, most audibly directed at Milan's Kevin-Prince Boateng, by some spectators. Juve have been fined €30,000 (Dh135,000).

The club released a statement condemning the abusers and supporting the authorities' efforts to stamp out the problem.

Juve knew there was an alternative punishment: The league might have ordered Juve play behind closed doors for their next home game. Imagine the effect: a title parade in an empty ground.

It would have made a resonant statement about Italy's attitude to stubbornly persistent racism in its arenas. It would also have turned those Juve fans who do not make monkey chants and who proclaim their rejection of racist abuse while emphasising their right to be vulgar into indignation.

Some banners pointing out that to sing "Jump up if you want Balotelli dead" is not racist have appeared at matches. It isn't, but it doesn't make it right. Nor is it racist to sing, at, say, a Turin derby, about the Superga tragedy, in which the players of the greatest Torino team died in a plane crash 64 years ago.

Those chants still get heard. They, too, are unacceptable in the 21st century. Refraining from one vile habit does not entitle someone to perform another.

twitter Follow us @SprtNationalUAE