ROME: Despite promises by the Italian football authorities to clamp down on racism, Serie A defender Marc Zoro says he constantly suffers “deplorable” insults because of the colour of his skin.
“I have been playing in Italy for three years and I see this happening almost daily, particularly when I’m in the north or the centre of the country, playing against clubs like Lazio, Roma, Verona and Treviso,” the 21-year-old, who plays for Sicilian side Messina, said.
“It happens less in the south of Italy, but I have problems all the time. All this makes me really sad. It’s not easy for me and it hurts. I don’t deserve this.”
On the first day of this season, Messina played Lazio at Rome’s Olympic Stadium; Zoro, an Ivory Coast international, was subjected to monkey chants throughout the match.
His anger almost boiled over at the final whistle and he had to be restrained by his teammates. Afterwards Lazio president Claudio Lotito went into the Messina dressing room to apologise on behalf of his club.
There was a similar outpouring of vitriol several weeks later when Messina visited Siena in Tuscany, where Zoro was roundly booed and jeered every time he touched the ball.
Asked whether initiatives like the European Week Against Racism in Sport – which runs from Oct 13 to 25 – could help eradicate the bigotry, Zoro said he thinks the issue runs too deep.
“It’s a good thing, but the root of the problem is mentality; it’s down to ignorance and a lack of sophistication.
“To shout racist insults and to throw things at the players is just savage behaviour. And sometimes it’s even worse.
“(Ivory Coast-born Lazio midfielder) Christian Manfredini is whistled by fans of his own club. If a fan loves his club, he can’t have this kind of attitude.”
Zoro was at a loss to explain why Italy has failed to deal with racism on the terraces, an offence which carries a possible jail sentence in England where the bigots have been driven away.
“It’s deplorable that this happens in a country like Italy, which has one of the best football championships in the world and where football is so important,” he said.
“It’s clear that the international football community takes a very dim view of this, and my Messina teammates are very supportive.
“Once, in a match against Treviso, the whole team blackened their faces in a show of solidarity.” – AFP