The pursuit of justice for racial abuse on Kalidou Koulibaly continues

We cannot not deny the impact of the efforts that have been made by the responsible authorities over the years to curb racism but still, players of color often receive this kind of abuse on and off the pitch. On the 26th of December 2018, Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly was a subject of racial abuse in a match with local rivals, Inter Milan. We have been made to believe that the due process to deal with such issues is to report it to the FIFPro and UEFA who will launch a probe on the matter before making a decision. However, no action has been taken so far against the disrespectful fans. Here’s a recap.

The incident

Kalidou Koulibaly of Napoli during the Group C match of the UEFA Champions League between SSC Napoli and Liverpool at Stadio San Paolo on October 3, 2018 in Naples, Italy.  (Oct. 2, 2018 - Source: Catherine Ivill/Getty Images Europe)

Kalidou Koulibaly of Napoli during the Group C match of the UEFA Champions League between SSC Napoli and Liverpool at Stadio San Paolo on October 3, 2018 in Naples, Italy.

(Oct. 2, 2018 - Source: Catherine Ivill/Getty Images Europe)

The Senegalese defender was at his job on a typical matchday Sunday in the Italian Serie A before the unfortunate incident took place. Some of the Inter Milan fans started making monkey noises directed at Kalidou Koulibaly in the match. The player was then sent off after picking up 2 yellow cards. He was suspended for two matches as punishment for sarcastically clapping off the referee after receiving marching orders. In the aftermath, Napoli coach Carlo Ancelotti came out to say that they made calls to end the match after hearing the abuse but it fell on deaf ears. He was not pleased with the way the officials handled the matter in the game.

Koulibaly’s support system

Not so long after, Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba wore an armband in support of Kalidou Koulibaly after the incident. The player’s message was clear and directed to the perpetrators who are fighting against the game’s values of honor, tolerance and respect. He was not the only one to show much needed support to the player. Even the Inter Milan coach, Luciano Spalletti was quoted to having said, “We were with Koulibaly, as we are at the side of all those who are targeted during the games.

Also, fellow African Faouzi Ghoulam of Napoli wore Koulibaly’s No 26 shirt in the warm up for the game against Bologna in which the defender was suspended. He was joined by the fans who held up anti-racism banners and photos of Koulibaly.  

Ancelotti’s threat

Carlo Ancelotti has since threatened to lead his team off the pitch if there is a repeat of such an incident. There is no place for racism in the game of football and everywhere else. He said, “The boy was on edge, he's an educated footballer who was targeted. What happened today was bad, not only for us but also for Italian football.

The authorities’ actions

The Italian League judge gave the verdict that Inter Milan would play the next two home matches behind closed doors. This means that their supporters would not be allowed to populate the stadiums and support their club. Also, the verdict included a partial closure for the club’s third home game.

However, the culprits who led the chants have not been punished. The Italian FA should do more and make sure that these fans are banned from the stadium for life.