La Gazzetta Interview: Lilian Thuram – Juve directors were wrong to appeal

Originally published in la Gazzetta dello Sport

Every week Football Italiano brings you a translation of one of la Gazzetta dello Sport’s interviews with a major name from the world of Italian football. This time it is the turn of former Juventus hero Lilian Thuram…

Lilian Thuram

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PARIS. Racism is to be fought through clear messages, even through disassociating from the supporters, and Juve shouldn’t have appealed against their game behind closed-doors. Lilian Thuram (who yesterday presented the Paris City Hall and European Counsel campaign against discriminations) doesn’t let his former club off the hook with the Balotelli case.

Are you surprised about the racial insults to Balotelli from your former supporters?

“I’m not. Racism exists in society and Balotelli is a novelty for the Italians.”

In what way?

“Because he’s Italian and black. When I was playing in Italy, many coaches and players used to tell me that the French National Team wasn’t the real one because of its black players”.

Is there more racism in Italy?

“Racism is deep-rooted within our society, regardless of the countries. We made some progress in France, but it’s still there. If there’s more black players in our national team it is due to colonialism”.

What should be done?

“It should be explained that an Italian citizen can be black; that black people are not all Africans, but also French, American, Danish. It’s a matter of education”.

Balotelli’s case was defined a racism matter at first, and afterwards it was downgraded by the footballing world to a matter of ignorance. Do you agree?

“Ignorance hides many things, avoiding the need to bring into question the whole society. Instead we should be discussing it, because racism is cultural. For ages society has been based on the prejudice of white western superiority. I wouldn’t be amazed if those who booed Balotelli were surprised by the controversy that followed”.

Your former colleagues from Juve didn’t stand up against it. Is it normal?

“Those who haven’t suffered racism tend not to give it importance. There’s a lack of common sense needed to better understand things. Then there are those who don’t want clashes with the supporters. They should use their status instead to say that a player can’t be insulted because he’s black. Juve has won also thanks to many black players. The players should encourage the supporters not to be scared by those different to themselves”.

Moratti was ready to withdraw his team from the pitch.

“It would have been a good decision, but he wasn’t in Turin”.

UEFA and Federcalcio want to stop matches in the event of racist chants. Is it the right way?

“Yes, if it makes people think about what they are doing. The message to spread is that you can’t do and say whatever you want at the stadium”.

Juve appealed against the match behind closed-doors.

“I wouldn’t have done it. The directors can’t silence the people that go to the stadium, but an appeal is like saying that what happened is nothing serious. The punishment should have been accepted so as to disassociate from the supporters”.

Are you disappointed by the Juve directors?

“I understand that they prefer to play with their supporters there, to win, but supporters can be loved even without being encouraged”.

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