Racism in Italian football reflects the everyday migrant experience

Italian striker Mario Balotelli has hit out at the “small minded” fans who have once again targeted him with racist abuse.

The Brescia player kicked the ball into the crowd and threatened to walk off the pitch after being on the end of racist chants during the team’s away game against Verona.

His anger is understandable. It’s not the first time Balotelli has been targeted. But very little seems to be being done in Italy – a country where racism in football has a long history.

It’s not that these racist events aren’t happening across the whole of Europe. In October, England’s Euro 2020 qualifier put the issue under the spotlight in the UK when black players on the men’s team were targeted with racist chants by Bulgarian fans in Sofia.

And, as many pundits and ex-players commented then, England has its own problems that need to be addressed.

But in Italy, the issue of racism is even more acute. In September, Romelu Lukaku, the Belgium and Inter Milan striker, was racially abused during a match in Cagliari, forcing him to speak out.

Balotelli has previously been targeted with the chant “non ci sono negri Italiani” (“there are no Italian blacks”) by Juventus fans. Not to mention the now standard monkey chants endured by players like Stephan El Shaarawy (Milan), Kevin Prince-Boateng (Milan) and Samuel Eto’o (Inter Milan) in recent times.

Indeed, in an angry post on Instagram following the latest attacks on Balotelli, Boateng said: “NOTHING has changed. But we don’t give up.”

Endemic racism

Between 2011 and 2016, the Observatory on Racism in Football (ORAC) counted 249 racist incidents in Italian stadiums. But in the 2017-18 season alone, ORAC registered 60 racist incidents.

One can simply dismiss these episodes as the rotten behaviour of the ultras (the most extreme fringes of football supporters), but the truth is that racism is not confined to these extremist fringes. Racism also penetrates the institutions that regulate Italian football.

Dr Marco Antonsich, a senior lecturer in Human Geography at Loughborough University, discusses how racism in Italian football reflects the everyday migrant experience in the Conversation. Read the full article here

Notes for editors

Press release reference number: 19/186

Loughborough University is equipped with a live in-house broadcast unit via the Globelynx network. To arrange an interview with one of our experts please contact the press office on 01509 223491. Bookings can be made online via www.globelynx.com

Loughborough is one of the country’s leading universities, with an international reputation for research that matters, excellence in teaching, strong links with industry, and unrivalled achievement in sport and its underpinning academic disciplines.

It has been awarded five stars in the independent QS Stars university rating scheme, named the best university in the world for sports-related subjects in the 2019 QS World University Rankings, University of the Year by The Times and Sunday Times University Guide 2019 and top in the country for its student experience in the 2018 THE Student Experience Survey.

Loughborough is in the top 10 of every national league table, being ranked 4th in the Guardian University League Table 2020, 5th in the Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2020 and 8th in The UK Complete University Guide 2020.

Loughborough is consistently ranked in the top twenty of UK universities in the Times Higher Education’s ‘table of tables’ and is in the top 10 in England for research intensity. In recognition of its contribution to the sector, Loughborough has been awarded seven Queen's Anniversary Prizes.

The Loughborough University London campus is based on the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and offers postgraduate and executive-level education, as well as research and enterprise opportunities. It is home to influential thought leaders, pioneering researchers and creative innovators who provide students with the highest quality of teaching and the very latest in modern thinking.


Loughborough staff, students and alumni make a real difference. They challenge convention, think creatively and find solutions to some of the biggest challenges facing society today and in the future.

Meet the #LboroGameChangers at lboro.ac.uk/lborogamechangers