- Giorgio Chiellini expresses shame over more racist abuse in Italy
- A trio of Napoli stars were racially abused by Fiorentina fans this season
- Chiellini says racist incidents abroad are ‘horrible propaganda’ for Italy
- The European champions are hoping to extend their unbeaten run this month
Roberto Mancini linked his team’s 37-match unbeaten run to the idea of extending it ahead of next year’s World Cup, and Giorgio Chiellini noted the spirited qualities of Euro 2020 glory.
But their attempt to add Italy’s post-Wembley shine and the UEFA Nations League to their European title was marred by an ugly outburst of racist abuse from Fiorentina fans aimed at Napoli’s Kalidou Koulibaly, Victor Osimhene and Andre-Frank Anguisa on Sunday .
‘This is unacceptable,’ said Chiellini. ‘I was embarrassed as an Italian, as a Tuscan. It’s shameful because people in Europe talk about Italy as a racist country and I don’t think it’s necessary.
Giorgio Chiellini says he is ‘ashamed as an Italian’ after more racist abuse in his country
‘Everyone needs to do more. This is terrible propaganda for Italy abroad. We all need to make an effort but we need laws that are enforced and enforced. That is the most important thing.’
Italian football’s stalwart, Chiellini started the season in strong form for club and country, rekindled by the thrill of success at Euro 2020 when Mancini’s team beat England on penalties in the final.
The 37-year-old captain of Italy and Juventus said, ‘The memories are fresh and the emotions are still in our hearts and minds. ‘I’ve had a real boost and a lift in terms of energy over the past few months.
Napoli’s Victor Osimhen (L), Kalidou Koulibaly (R) and Andre Frank Anguisa (not pictured) were racially abused by Fiorentina fans over the weekend
The 37-year-old Italian protester said the racist incidents are ‘terrible propaganda for Italy abroad’.
‘It has given me a new lease of life. I am really enjoying every single moment of my football old age. At 32, I’ve enjoyed it more than in years past. We will see how far it will last.
The Nations League is in its second edition – Portugal was the inaugural winner in 2019 – and has claimed a coveted last four this year.
Italy will take on Spain tonight in Milan, world No. 1 in Turin, for the right to face the winners of Thursday’s semi-final between World Cup holders France and Belgium.
‘It’s a big prize for us and we want to win something,’ said Spain boss Luis Enrique, who hailed the Italians as ‘the best side in Europe’ and appealed for the rules of possibility. ‘Sooner or later’ they must be defeated.
Chiellini hoping to extend Azzzuri’s unbeaten run after his Euro 2020 win
Mancini said, ‘That’s right, it will be sooner or later.’ Mancini, whose team has not lost since September 2019. ‘But we are hopeful that we can remain unbeaten till December 2022.’
This week’s Nations League matches will go ahead without undercover observers of Football Against Racism in Europe (FARE) due to a standoff with UEFA.
European football’s governing body is facing a race against time to strike a deal with FARE, which provides independent and undercover monitors to identify aggressively misbehaving fans at high-risk matches. In which many more games are set to go ahead without stopping.
About 80 matches have already been played this season without the fair’s spotters, who would normally be in the crowd for the Nations League finals to watch out for any incidents of discrimination.
The next round of European club fixtures in a fortnight could also throw up several games of concern, including Leicester’s visit to Spartak Moscow.
Elsewhere, UEFA is facing a race against time to reach an agreement with FARE to help identify fans who abuse aggressively at matches.
Last week’s Rangers Europa League match in Sparta Prague was not supervised and Scottish champions midfielder Glenn Kamara was targeted by mobs. Kamara was indicted for racial abuse by Slavia Prague’s Ondrej Kudela last season, resulting in a 10-game ban for the defender.
Kamara’s lawyer Amer Anwar said: ‘It is unbelievable that UEFA no longer has an independent observer in European matches when it is their role to report back on racist conduct.
‘It just goes to show that the fight against racism is nothing more than a PR exercise for UEFA after Glenn Kamara.’
TV: Italy v Spain, Nations League Semi-Final. Kick-Off: Live on Sky Sports Football at 7.45pm.