Kalidou Koulibaly has been racially abused on many occasions by opposition fans in Serie A.
After those shocking incidents, the Napoli and Senegal center back wants to remind us of one thing. In his words, ‘We are all brothers’ on this planet.
Koulibaly, 28, has spent the past five seasons at Napoli and he believes that trying to change the attitude of youngsters is how society, not just soccer, can reduce racist incidents in the future.
He grew up in the Saint-Die district of Paris and recalled how the entire neighborhood would come together, no matter which country they were from, to help one another out.
Below is a snippet from the excellent article on Players’ Tribune, as Koulibaly recalls what happened when he was racially abused by Lazio fans during a game against them.
At the final whistle, I was walking to the tunnel, and I was very, very angry. But then I remembered something important. Before the match, there was a little mascot boy who walked with me to the pitch, holding my hand. He asked if he could have my jersey. I promised that I would give it to him after the match. So I turned around and went looking for him. I found him in the stands and gave him my shirt. And guess what’s the first thing he said to me?
“I am very sorry for what happened.”
This really affected me a lot. This little guy was apologizing for I don’t know how many grown men. And this was the first thing he thinks about — how I was feeling.
I told him, “It doesn’t matter. Thank you. Ciao.”
This is the spirit of a child. This is what we are missing in the world right now. I know that these incidents are not just happening because of skin color. I hear what some fans call my teammates, too. They call the Serbian players “gypsies,” they call even an Italian like Lorenzo Insigne “Neapolitan s***.” We need to do better.