Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly opens up on his experiences of being abused by ‘racial thugs’ as he calls on football chiefs in Italy to clamp down on the issue with lifetime bans
- Kalidou Koulibaly has demanded ‘racist thugs’ be given lifetime bans
- Koulibaly opened up on his experiences of being racially abused in an interview
- He wants Italy’s football chiefs to take more ‘drastic measures’ against racism
Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly has called on Italian football chiefs to clamp down the issue of racism in football by handing out lifetime bans to supporters caught abusing players.
The 28-year-old is a vocal campaigner against racism and has been subjected to monkey chants on numerous occasions in matches for Napoli.
Speaking to L’Equipe, the Senegal international opened up on some of those past experiences.
Napoli’s Kalidou Koulibaly has called on Italian football chiefs to clamp down on racism
‘There might’ve been a racist tinge to some of the comments at FC Metz and Genk, but I didn’t have a single problem of genuine racism,’ Koulibaly said about his time at the two clubs.
‘I heard a lot about the stereotypes of Italy being racist and people not liking Serie A because of that. However, my family is very happily settled in Naples, as are my friends when they come to visit. The Senegalese street sellers here get called Koulibaly and they’re very happy with that. It’s not a problem.’
The defender joined Napoli from Belgian side Genk in 2014. His first brush with racial abuse in Italy came during a league match two years later.
‘The first experience of real racism was against Lazio during my second season,’ he said. ‘During that match (February 2016), I really lost it. The monkey chants were so loud, I lost focus. I was no longer thinking about football and that really hurt.
Napoli fans hold up flyers of Koulibaly’s face after he was racially abused in game with Lazio
The Senegal star was also subjected to monkey chants from Inter Milan fans last December
‘The staff were worried, the coach (Maurizio Sarri) offered to stop the match and walk off if it continued. The truth is, I felt embarrassed, as if I didn’t deserve to be there.
‘Looking back, I should’ve felt the opposite: the racists should’ve felt ashamed. They’re thugs and would never dare make those noises to my face. They can hide in a crowd and be anonymous. We’ve got to clamp down on it.’
Only last month, Romelu Lukaku fell victim to the same vile chants after scoring for Inter Milan in their 2-1 victory over Cagliari.
No sanctions were taken against the club after an investigation from the Italian Football Federation’s (FIGC) sporting justice panel deemed that the chants could not be considered discriminatory in terms of their ‘scale and realisation’.
Koulibaly wants authorities in Italy to take more ‘drastic measures’ in the fight against racism
Lukaku stares at the stand where he received racist abuse after scoring for Inter Milan
In a similar showing of defiance, Moise Kean stared at the fans in the same fashion last season
Individual spectators were observed chanting at Lukaku but, because of the volume of the noise emanating from the stand, it was claimed that it would be impossible to prove if what was being said was discriminatory.
Moise Kean, now of Everton, was also racially abused by Cagliari fans while playing for Juventus last season.
The Premier League have a zero-tolerance policy on abhorrent and racial behaviour – earlier this year Chelsea banned a supporter for life for racially abusing Raheem Sterling – and Koulibaly has urged Serie A to take the same approach.
He added: ‘Other countries are further ahead in the fight against racism, as for example in England they ban people for life. We need more drastic measures like that in Italy.’