Black People : Italy's culture of racism exposed by fans' abuse of black football star

RAPTOR

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Sep 12, 2009
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Born in Sicily to Ghanaian parents, Inter Milan's Mario Balotelli personifies a refusal to accept a multi-ethnic society

AMario-Balotelli-001.jpg


The songs are varied, offensive and, in at least one case, openly racist. "If
you jump up and down, Balotelli dies" is a favourite with supporters of
arguably the most famous Italian football club, Juventus.

"A negro cannot be Italian" is the chant that explains the vitriol. The target
of the abuse is 19-year-old Mario Balotelli, a footballer with Italian
champions Inter Milan and a rising star of Italy's Under-21 national team.

In England, Germany or France, Balotelli would be making headlines in the
sports pages as one of the most exciting young prospects in the national
sport. In Italy, his treatment at the hands of a minority of hostile football
fans is turning him into a symbol of the country's seeming inability to
embrace a multi-ethnic identity. Last Monday, Juventus were fined for anti-
Balotelli chanting at a match for the second time this season.

Balotelli was born – and immediately abandoned by his Ghanaian parents –
in the Sicilian capital, Palermo. He is an Italian passport holder and was
brought up by adopted parents in Brescia from the age of two. He speaks
with the accent of his region, but has received far more racist abuse than
other black stars in Italian football because his Italian identity is seen by
some as a provocation.

"The difference [from other black players] is Balotelli is totally black and
totally Italian, and that has provoked a short circuit among fans," said
Sandro Modeo, a correspondent for Corriere della Sera.

As Italy's immigrant total reaches 7%, the treatment of many of the
"Balotelli generation" – the half-million children of immigrants born in Italy
who qualify by law for Italian citizenship on their 18th birthday – is
becoming an increasingly controversial issue in a country which still,
overwhelmingly, considers itself white.

Yesterday, a black Italian writer, Pap Khouma, wrote an open letter to La
Repubblica, headlined "Being a black Italian: my life as an obstacle course".
In it, he described incidents of routine discrimination: regular requests to
provide his permit to stay in Italy; being mistaken for a street-seller by his
Milanese neighbours. On one occasion, running through Milan's streets late
for work, Khouma was stopped by a policeman, asked for his papers and
escorted to the local station as a non-EU "foreigner". "Have you any idea,"
Khouma asked the paper's readers, "what it means to be Italian and black
in Italy in 2009?"

For Gian Antonio Stella, a columnist for Corriere della Sera, the racism is
evident and ignoring it a national pastime. "Britain has reflected on its
colonial past, Germany has done the same with Nazism, but Italians still
believe the myth of the Good Italian, soft colonialism and insist the racial
laws of the 1930s were passed by fascists, not Italians," he said.

Despite the difficulties, the Balotelli generation is beginning to make its
presence felt. The Italian under-14 cricket team is largely made up of
Asian-Italians and won a European tournament this summer. Lihao Zhang,
an 11-year-old girl of Chinese extraction, living in Voghera, the Lombardy
heartland of the xenophobic Northern League party, received glowing press
reviews after winning a school competition this year for poetry written in
local dialect.

"The offspring of immigrants are easing into Italian culture, meaning Italian
traditions are not going to be lost," said Alessandro Campi, a professor of
political science at the University of Perugia. "If anything, these children will
have more problems with their own families' cultures than with their
friends'."

As for Balotelli, a one-match ban for Juventus fans from their home
stadium, follow-up fines of over €20,000 (£18,000) for the club and
questions in parliament have failed to stop the chants, which are not limited
to Turin, where the club is based. The coach of Ghana's national team,
Milovan Rajevac, has publicly invited him to play for the country in next
summer's World Cup. And the beginnings of a backlash against the abuse
may be beginning. Some commentators are now calling for the 6ft 2in
striker to be selected immediately for the Italian team.

"I am sorry for Balotelli, he should be left alone to play football, but right
now he is symbol of a cultural shift in Italy and a yardstick for whether we
can make that change," said Stella, the Corriere della Sera columnist.

Growing up in rich, industrial Brescia, the player became used to racial
abuse during school matches, with parents pointing to his height and
claiming "with these Africans you can never tell what age they really are".

"Mario always needed love and affection," his adoptive sister Cristina told
the French newspaper L'Equipe. "He wouldn't go to sleep without his mother
holding his hand."

On the pitch as a professional, he has sometimes been unable to ignore the
hostility from the stands. Faced with Roma fans who reportedly threw
bananas at him in a bar, he stuck his tongue out at an opposition defender
after scoring against them. For that, claimed the Roma captain Francesco
Totti, he "deserved a slap".

"It's a shame that everyone is more upset with me than with the people
yelling at me," replied Balotelli.

If Balotelli is indeed picked by Italian national coach Marcello Lippi to play in
the World Cup next summer, the selection may signal a new era for black
Italians. And as more and more of their white compatriots realise that the
country's ethnic make-up is changing, support is at least beginning to
emerge across the political spectrum.

"Balotelli is stubborn, combative and can be a bit of a bully, but at the same
time he is generous, brave and irreverent," said Fare Futuro, a think-tank
run by the prominent centre right politician Gianfranco Fini. "He is pure
talent. Genius and lack of restraint all in one. What else could be more
Italian than that?"
 
Points of Interest

Balotelli was born – and immediately abandoned by his Ghanaian parents – in the Sicilian capital, Palermo. He is an Italian passport holder and was brought up by adopted parents in Brescia from the age of two.

Abandoned in Italy of all places.

"The offspring of immigrants are easing into Italian culture, meaning Italian traditions are not going to be lost," said Alessandro Campi, a professor of political science at the University of Perugia. "If anything, these children will have more problems with their own families' cultures than with their friends'."

Sad truth.

Growing up in rich, industrial Brescia, the player became used to racial abuse during school matches, with parents pointing to his height and
claiming "with these Africans you can never tell what age they really are".

That's a good thing, right? :qqb006:
 
When one speaks to African American veterans stationed there

Born in Sicily to Ghanaian parents, Inter Milan's Mario Balotelli personifies a refusal to accept a multi-ethnic society

AMario-Balotelli-001.jpg


The songs are varied, offensive and, in at least one case, openly racist. "If
you jump up and down, Balotelli dies" is a favourite with supporters of
arguably the most famous Italian football club, Juventus.

"A negro cannot be Italian" is the chant that explains the vitriol. The target
of the abuse is 19-year-old Mario Balotelli, a footballer with Italian
champions Inter Milan and a rising star of Italy's Under-21 national team.

In England, Germany or France, Balotelli would be making headlines in the
sports pages as one of the most exciting young prospects in the national
sport. In Italy, his treatment at the hands of a minority of hostile football
fans is turning him into a symbol of the country's seeming inability to
embrace a multi-ethnic identity. Last Monday, Juventus were fined for anti-
Balotelli chanting at a match for the second time this season.

Balotelli was born – and immediately abandoned by his Ghanaian parents –
in the Sicilian capital, Palermo. He is an Italian passport holder and was
brought up by adopted parents in Brescia from the age of two. He speaks
with the accent of his region, but has received far more racist abuse than
other black stars in Italian football because his Italian identity is seen by
some as a provocation.

"The difference [from other black players] is Balotelli is totally black and
totally Italian, and that has provoked a short circuit among fans," said
Sandro Modeo, a correspondent for Corriere della Sera.

As Italy's immigrant total reaches 7%, the treatment of many of the
"Balotelli generation" – the half-million children of immigrants born in Italy
who qualify by law for Italian citizenship on their 18th birthday – is
becoming an increasingly controversial issue in a country which still,
overwhelmingly, considers itself white.

Yesterday, a black Italian writer, Pap Khouma, wrote an open letter to La
Repubblica, headlined "Being a black Italian: my life as an obstacle course".
In it, he described incidents of routine discrimination: regular requests to
provide his permit to stay in Italy; being mistaken for a street-seller by his
Milanese neighbours. On one occasion, running through Milan's streets late
for work, Khouma was stopped by a policeman, asked for his papers and
escorted to the local station as a non-EU "foreigner". "Have you any idea,"
Khouma asked the paper's readers, "what it means to be Italian and black
in Italy in 2009?"

For Gian Antonio Stella, a columnist for Corriere della Sera, the racism is
evident and ignoring it a national pastime. "Britain has reflected on its
colonial past, Germany has done the same with Nazism, but Italians still
believe the myth of the Good Italian, soft colonialism and insist the racial
laws of the 1930s were passed by fascists, not Italians," he said.

Despite the difficulties, the Balotelli generation is beginning to make its
presence felt. The Italian under-14 cricket team is largely made up of
Asian-Italians and won a European tournament this summer. Lihao Zhang,
an 11-year-old girl of Chinese extraction, living in Voghera, the Lombardy
heartland of the xenophobic Northern League party, received glowing press
reviews after winning a school competition this year for poetry written in
local dialect.

"The offspring of immigrants are easing into Italian culture, meaning Italian
traditions are not going to be lost," said Alessandro Campi, a professor of
political science at the University of Perugia. "If anything, these children will
have more problems with their own families' cultures than with their
friends'."

As for Balotelli, a one-match ban for Juventus fans from their home
stadium, follow-up fines of over €20,000 (£18,000) for the club and
questions in parliament have failed to stop the chants, which are not limited
to Turin, where the club is based. The coach of Ghana's national team,
Milovan Rajevac, has publicly invited him to play for the country in next
summer's World Cup. And the beginnings of a backlash against the abuse
may be beginning. Some commentators are now calling for the 6ft 2in
striker to be selected immediately for the Italian team.

"I am sorry for Balotelli, he should be left alone to play football, but right
now he is symbol of a cultural shift in Italy and a yardstick for whether we
can make that change," said Stella, the Corriere della Sera columnist.

Growing up in rich, industrial Brescia, the player became used to racial
abuse during school matches, with parents pointing to his height and
claiming "with these Africans you can never tell what age they really are".

"Mario always needed love and affection," his adoptive sister Cristina told
the French newspaper L'Equipe. "He wouldn't go to sleep without his mother
holding his hand."

On the pitch as a professional, he has sometimes been unable to ignore the
hostility from the stands. Faced with Roma fans who reportedly threw
bananas at him in a bar, he stuck his tongue out at an opposition defender
after scoring against them. For that, claimed the Roma captain Francesco
Totti, he "deserved a slap".

"It's a shame that everyone is more upset with me than with the people
yelling at me," replied Balotelli.

If Balotelli is indeed picked by Italian national coach Marcello Lippi to play in
the World Cup next summer, the selection may signal a new era for black
Italians. And as more and more of their white compatriots realise that the
country's ethnic make-up is changing, support is at least beginning to
emerge across the political spectrum.

"Balotelli is stubborn, combative and can be a bit of a bully, but at the same
time he is generous, brave and irreverent," said Fare Futuro, a think-tank
run by the prominent centre right politician Gianfranco Fini. "He is pure
talent. Genius and lack of restraint all in one. What else could be more
Italian than that?"

..they say the exact opposite, and when I used to work in civil service , 60% staff were vets.
Odly enough they say there the Italians concider themselves Latin rather then white, that's what I've heard.

The situation against immingrants has occured in France, a place where, Black Americans have been expats since the 30s.

There is a mindset of understanding of the Black American experience and what we have been through for 400 years in most of Europe where, folks like Lauren Hill, Erica Badou, Immortal Technique and the Legendary Last Poets get standing room only crowds, in fact the mayor o Paris had designated a street named after Mumia Abu Jamal.
They wonder why those opressed by thier forefathers would risk life and limb to leave their birth place that they fought so hard to regain, to go and live in the land of thier opressors.
 

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