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Fans fulfil mask pledge to racism victim Koulibaly

Thousands of Napoli fans made good a pledge to racism victim Kalidou Koulibaly by filling the San Paolo stadium with masks of the Senegal defender prior to kick off against Carpi on Sunday.

Fans fulfil mask pledge to racism victim Koulibaly
People hold flyers depicting the face of Napoli's French defender Kalidou Koulibaly in solidarity with the player, who suffered racist abuse last week. Photo: Carlo Hermann/AFP

“It's great what the fans did today, it shows their affection for a lad who has a wonderful character,” Napoli coach Maurizio Sarri told reporters after a 1-0 win kept them top of Serie A with a two-point lead on champions Juventus.

The latest in a long line of racist incidents hit Italian football last week when France-born Senegal international Koulibaly was the victim of monkey chants during a 2-0 win at Lazio.

Referee Massimiliano Irrati, in accordance with league regulations, halted the match for nearly four minutes to demand a stop to the abuse.

Lazio were later handed a €50,000 fine and will see the Curva Nord (North End) of the Stadio Olimpico closed to fans for their next two home games.

While Irrati's decision to stop the game was roundly applauded as one of the league's new initiatives to stamp out racism, Koulibaly showed his disdain for his abusers by offering his Napoli shirt to a young Lazio-supporting ball boy.

A supporters' group, 'Quelli del Sangue Azzurro' (The Blue Blooded Ones), later called on Azzurri fans to show their full support for Koulibaly by holding up masks of his face.

And fans replied in their thousands, filling almost the entire stadium with masks of the African's face prior to kick-off against the visiting league strugglers.

A statement from the group last week said: “Everyone in Naples is offended by what happened to our young star. Because of this, we want to show our full support to Koulibaly.

“We are all with you, Kalidou. Our invitation to Napoli fans is to print a photo of the defender and put it on your face when the teams come on the pitch.”

In a post on his Instagram account, Koulibaly said: “It was unforgettable. Thanks to all the fans who, thanks to this memorable initiative, made the San Paolo an even more special place to be.”

The gesture was reminiscent of the stance taken by Treviso players in 2001 to show their support for 18-year-old Nigerian player Schengun Omolade, who fell victim to his own club's notoriously racist 'Blue Army' supporters' group.

At their next game, Treviso's starting team ran out on to the pitch with their faces blackened as Omolade – who had not been informed of the players' plans – sat on the bench astounded.

Italy's problem with racist supporters is well documented, with several high profile players falling victim to abuse over the years including Ruud Gullit, Aaron Winter, Patrick Vieira, Paul Ince, Mario Balotelli and Kevin-Prince Boateng.

RACISM

Black people in Germany face ‘widespread’ racism, survey finds

In the Afrocensus, a first-of-its-kind survey charting the lived experiences of black people in Germany, the vast majority revealed they experienced 'extensive' discrimination in almost all aspects of public life.

Dr Karamba Diaby
Dr Karamba Diaby, an SPD politician and anti-racism advocate, carries out voluntary work in his constituency of Halle, Saxony-Anhalt. Photo: picture alliance/dpa/dpa-Zentralbild | Hendrik Schmidt

“The results of the Afrocensus indicate that anti-Black racism is widespread in Germany and anchored in institutions,” the authors of the new report said in a press release on Tuesday. “There is no area of life in which discrimination and racism are not extensive problems.”

Though the overwhelming majority of respondents said they had experienced discrimination at least ‘sometimes’ in almost all areas of life, housing was the area where they said they were discriminated against most often.

Just two percent of respondents to the Afrocensus said they had ‘rarely’ or ‘never’ experienced racism in the housing market, compared to more than 90 percent who said they had experienced it ‘often’ or ‘very often’.

READ ALSO: ‘Black lives need to matter in Germany’ New project to uncover racism in everyday life

Experiences with police and security personnel also counted among areas of life where racism was particularly prevalent: 88 percent of respondents had experienced discrimination from security staff ‘often’ or ‘very often’, while around 85 percent had had the same experience with police.

More than 85 percent had also experienced racism in their education or in the workplace ‘often’ or ‘very often’ in Germany. One in seven had lost their job during the Covid crisis. 

According to the report, 90 percent of respondents had also experienced having their hair grabbed, while more than half (56 percent) had been stopped by the police or asked for drugs by strangers.

Meanwhile, 80 percent said people had made comments about the colour of their skin or sexualised comments about their race on dating apps. A vast majority – 90 percent – also revealed they hadn’t been believed when they’d spoken out about racism in the past, or that people had said they were “too sensitive”. 

READ ALSO: OPINION: My experiences of everyday racism in Germany

In spite of widespread discrimination, almost half (47 percent) of the respondents were engaged and active in their community – mostly carrying out some form of social or voluntary work.

First of its kind

Based on wide-ranging data, the findings paint a vivid and concerning picture of what life is like for the one million or so black people living in Germany today.

To produce the report, researchers from Berlin-based Black community group Each One Teach One and Citizens for Europe conducted an extended survey of 6,000 black people from the Africans and Afrodiasporic community to try and discover more about on the everyday lives and experiences of this group. The survey was carried out between July and September 2020. 

It represents one of the first attempts to gather a wealth of quantitative data on this subject, and as such offers some of the first truly scientific insights into anti-Black racism in modern Germany.

“With the Afrocensus, we have succeeded in doing exactly what has long been demanded within the black community for a long time: making the realities of our lives visible within the framework of qualitative, but above all quantitative research,” Dr. Pierrette Herzberger-Fofana und Dr. Karamba Diaby wrote in a foreword to the report. 

Diaby, a high-profile politician within the centre-left SPD party, was one of only two Afro-German politicians in parliament when he first took his seat in 2013. He has since become known for promoting political engagement and empowerment within the migrant and black community. 

In January 2020, an unknown gunman fired shots through the window of his constituency office in Halle, Saxony-Anhalt, in a suspected racially motivated attack. 

READ ALSO: How people with migrant backgrounds remain underrepresented in German politics

Since the Second World War, Germany has avoided gathering data that allows people to be traced by ethnicity as a means of protecting persecuted groups.

However, critics say this approach only works to make the issues faced by these groups invisible. 

Writing on Twitter, Daniel Gyamerah, Division Lead at Citizens For Europe, called for an “action plan for tackling anti-Black racism and for empowering black, African and Afrodiasporic people” and the establishment of advice centres for people facing racism and discrimination.

More research into the intersectional experience of black people in Germany is needed, he added. 

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