By Barnaby Chesterman ,AFP
ROME — Juventus have been fined once again for racist chanting by their fans during Saturday’s 2-1 victory against Udinese in Serie A. Colombian wing-back Pablo Armero and Cape Verde-born Switzerland midfielder Gelson Fernandes were the victims of racist chanting during both the first and second half. Juve have been hit with a 10,000-euro fine, the same amount they were docked in October after racist chanting during their win at Inter Milan. The Old Lady of Turin’s fans have a sorry record when it comes to racist chants as they regularly abused Manchester City striker Mario Balotelli — an Italian of Ghanaian origin — during his Inter days. In 2008/09 Juve had to play a match behind closed doors after their fans racially abused Balotelli following a controversial incident during the team’s clash with Inter. That seemed to anger and galvanize certain sections of the Juve support who proceeded to regularly target Balotelli, even when not playing against his team. The next season the club was punished four times, including a partial stand closure once, for fans anti-Balotelli chants. That season they were hit with 25,000-euro and 20,000-euro fines as well as the closure of the stand holding their “Ultra” fans for one match, whereas this season the sanctions have been tame in comparison. It’s not just Juve involved in racist chanting, though as Cagliari and Brescia have also been fined for the same offence over the last couple of years. Last season’s Cagliari-Inter clash was briefly suspended due to such chants — although the Sardinian club’s then coach Pierpaolo Bisoli suggested afterwards that normal angry chants against an opponent’s player, Samuel Eto’o, had been mistaken for having a racial nature. Balotelli was even abused by Italy fans when on international duty against Romania in a friendly in Austria in November 2010. And he admitted to being hurt by the chants he suffered. “I had to learn to live with racism in Italy, to pretend it was nothing, but it burnt,” he said back then. “In England that doesn’t happen. But it shouldn’t happen anywhere.” Back in 2007 before Manchester United played Roma in a Champions League match, Frenchman Louis Saha claimed he was expecting to be racially abused. “We are traveling to Italy, and in those kind of places it seems like they are used to it. They don’t fight it like we have done in England,” said Saha, then of United but now at Everton.
“They are starting to recognize it and think about it, but not very strongly — whereas England is a good example of where it has been tackled.” The next year former Celtic star Shunsuke Nakamura, who had played in Italy for Reggina, said racism in the country discouraged foreigners from moving to Serie A. “Sometimes you get racism … not in Scotland but in Italy, which is not nice, and that probably explains why so few Japanese players have made it (in Italy),” he said when at Celtic.