Italy

Photo credit: Corriere dello Sport

Italian newspaper condemned for ‘Black Friday’ headline featuring Lukaku, Smalling

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Italian newspaper Corriere dello Sport has been widely condemned after printing the headline “Black Friday” on top of photos of Inter Milan forward Romelu Lukaku and Roma defender Chris Smalling, former Manchester United teammates set to face one another in Serie A action on Friday.

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The sub-headline went on to read: “Lukaku and Smalling, former teammates at Manchester United and today idols at Inter and Roma, this is the battle within the battle tomorrow with the scudetto and a Champions League place at stake.”

Both clubs were quick to put out statements condemning the newspaper’s coverage.

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Per the Guardian, an excerpt of the article which appeared to attempt to highlight Serie A’s problem with racism, saying, “We are all trying to tackle the issue of racism in Italian football,” before making a racially insensitive statement of its own:

“In the faces of those idiots who boo, tomorrow everyone must instead go ‘oooh’ like children. It will be a Black Friday, but this is not an end-of-season sale.” It went on to describe Lukaku and Smalling as “two giants of color.”

This comes less than a week after Serie A’s 20 clubs put out a joint statement “acknowledging a serious problem with racism” in the Italian game, while providing little or no concrete plan for action to rid the game of the very racism they acknowledged.

Lukaku has scored 10 goals in 14 league games since joining Inter this summer and Smalling has become a mainstay for Roma in recent months, scoring twice and leading the defense to a much improved record of goals conceded and five victories in six games.

UPDATE #2: Roma has banned Corriere dello Sport from “our training facilities for the rest of the year and our players will not carry out any media activities with the newspaper during this period.”

UPDATE: Lukaku and Smalling have each commented on the headline…

Serie A’s 20 clubs acknowledge ‘serious problem with racism’

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MILAN (AP) All 20 Serie A clubs have issued a joint statement “to publicly recognize that we have a serious problem with racism.”

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The acknowledgment comes amid an Italian league marred by constant episodes of racist chants and discriminatory behavior.

The clubs say, “It’s a problem that we have not done enough to combat over the years. Images of players being racially abused in Italian football have been viewed and discussed all around the world this season and that shames us all.”

Racist chants have recently been aimed at Romelu Lukaku, Franck Kessie, Dalbert Henrique, Miralem Pjanic, Ronaldo Vieira, Kalidou Koulibaly and Mario Balotelli. All the players targeted — except for Pjanic, who is Bosnian — are black.

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The clubs say, “No individual should ever be subjected to racist abuse – inside or outside of football – and we can no longer stay silent on this issue or wait for it to magically disappear.”

The teams add “positive conversations” have been held in recent weeks with the Italian football federation and international experts “on how to tackle and eradicate this issue from the game.”

Serie A CEO Luigi De Siervo says the league is “ready to lead this campaign.”

VIDEO: Brescia defend club president after racist Balotelli comments

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Mario Balotelli has been subjected to more racist abuse in Serie A, this time from the president of his own club, Massimo Cellino.

Earlier this month Balotelli was subjected to racist chants from Hellas Verona fans during a game for Brescia, his hometown club, and at the weekend he was left out of the squad for their 3-0 defeat at Roma after having a disagreement with head coach Fabio Grosso.

Asked about the situation regarding Balotelli, here’s what Cellino had to say: “He’s black, what can I say, he’s working on clearing himself but he’s having a lot of difficulty.”

Here is a video of the simply shocking comments from Cellino.

The club then released a statement, saying that Cellino’s comment was “clearly misunderstood” and he was in fact trying to protect Balotelli.

Balotelli, 29, has scored twice for Brescia this season as they sit bottom of Serie A.

Wolves youngster Cutrone bags U-21 Euro qualifying brace for Italy

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Patrick Cutrone struck for a late brace as Italy topped Iceland 3-0 in U-21 Euro 2021 qualification on Saturday.

The young Wolves striker started the match and had a bad miss just before halftime, but picked himself up and struck twice in the final 10 minutes to earn Italy the win.

The victory was important for the Italians, who were missing a host of important players. Everton striker Moise Kean was suspended for a red card, while Sandro Tonali and Nicolo Zaniolo were both called up to the senior squad for Italy’s qualifiers against Bosnia & Herzegovina and Armenia.

Cutrone was involved in Italy’s opener, sending a cross in to Inter youngster Andrea Pinamonti, who then knocked it down for Riccardo Sottil to finish off past the half-hour mark. The 21-year-old Wolves purchase should have scored just after the second-half restart but fired wide from 10 yards out.

Iceland was lively in the match, with a squad that included players from Borussia Dortmund, Brentford, and BATE Borisov. However, it was Cutrone who would put the match away in the 84th minute when he blasted in a rebound off a saved header from Sassuolo product Gianluca Scamacca. He struck again in the 90th minute, firing home a low effort after a Scamacca feed.

Things go chippy at the end of the match, with a member of Iceland’s bench sent off and a small scuffle between players at the final whistle. The Italians pushed up to second in the group, three points behind Republic of Ireland with the victory, also holding two games in hand on those at the top.

Everton’s Moise Kean dropped due to discipline issues

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Everton striker Moise Kean was dropped for the 2-1 win at Southampton on Saturday after being late for a team meeting.

Kean, 19, was not in the Toffees squad for their first Premier League away victory since March and Sky Sports in the UK say that was because the Italian international has been having issues with his timekeeping.

Here’s some more information from our partners at Sky Sports News in the UK:

“The former Juventus forward was late for a team meeting and as a result was left out of the squad for the 2-1 Premier League victory at St Mary’s. Sky Sports News understands it is the second time Kean has been late for a team meeting.”

It is believed the player has apologized to Silva and his teammates for being late, but he does have previous, and not just with Everton. Italy boss Roberto Mancini left Kean out of the Azzurri squad in September after he and Roma’s Nicolo Zaniolo were late for a team meeting at the U21 European Championships in the summer.

Somebody get Kean a new watch, or at least set a few more reminders on his phone!

Kean arrived at Goodison Park for $33 million this summer but has yet to score for the Toffees as Richarlison, Dominic Calvert-Lewin and Cenk Tosun have all been preferred to him in the central strikers role.

This is a tough one. Kean is young and adapting to life in a new country, so let’s give him the benefit of the doubt, but rules are rules and Silva obviously runs a tight ship.