'Black Friday' headline highlights media as part of racism problem in Italy, says Kick It Out

By Sports Desk December 05, 2019

Corriere dello Sport's controversial "Black Friday" headline focusing on Romelu Lukaku and Chris Smalling proves the media is a part of Italy's discrimination problem, according to anti-racism campaigners Kick It Out.

With Inter and Roma set to tussle in Serie A this Friday, the sports publication previewed the contest on its front page on Thursday.

But the prevalence of "Black Friday" – a term used to describe the first Friday after Thanksgiving in the United States when retail sales mark the start of the Christmas shopping period – saw the publication focus on the reunion of former Manchester United team-mates Smalling and Lukaku, and specifically the colour of their skin.

Roma, Inter and Milan were among the clubs to condemn the actions of Corriere dello Sport, which defended its headline as being "innocent", adamant the story "is transformed into poison by those who have poison in themselves".

Troy Townsend, head of development for equality and inclusion organisation Kick It Out, said errors in judgement help to normalise discrimination in Italy, a country that has been dogged by incidents of racism this season.

Speaking to Omnisport, Townsend said: "We're not shocked, are we? We've seen a number of incidents in Italy this season alone.

"If we talk about Lukaku himself and the abuse he received at Cagliari, Mario Balotelli again – what he had to do through anger, through frustration, in kicking the ball into the crowd and attempting to walk off a football pitch. Then he had his own president [Massimo Cellino] talk about him in the way he did, saying he was ['black and is working on lightening up'].

"This is symptomatic of the issues and the problems that still exist in Italy. While we thought it was an issue for the federation, who allow racism in their stadiums and allow the very identity of black people to be dehumanised, questioned and devalued, we now realise again – like we have in the UK – that the press have a massive part to play in this as well.

"By choosing two black players and using that headline 'Black Friday'… their [Corriere dello Sport's] statement, you're not kidding anybody here.

"Ultimately, that is a racist act that's been put out publicly that many people will glorify on and chuckle with. That's my massive issue – you're influencing the masses with whatever you put out, front page or back page.

"The people they should go and ask how they feel are Lukaku and Chris Smalling. I can guarantee both of them will tell whoever it needs to be as it is and not be led by a limp statement afterwards."

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