Daily Mail - - Football - by IAN HER­BERT

WHAT are the Ital­ian FA go­ing to do about this, asked Ya y a Toure. He had ar­rived to speak at a sym­po­sium on how to make foot­ball a more di­verse sport and in­stead found him­self dis­cussing the scan­dal of Ju­ven­tus’ 19-yearold Moise Kean be­ing ra­cially abused, then told by team-mate Leonardo Bonucci and man­ager Mas­si­m­il­iano Al­le­gri that he had brought it on him­self.

The head of the Ital­ian FA was not in the room. Chief ex­ec­u­tive Michele Uva had been in­vited to the Equal Game event at Wem­b­ley but, for rea­sons his of­fi­cials could not ex­plain, was not present to ex­plain why pock­ets of Ital­ian sup­port re­main the most stead­fastly racist in Europe.

‘We are very sorry for what hap­pened. We are do­ing our best to tackle this is­sue,’ said one of his staff, Cristina Blasetti. Toure then

spoke well about what he de­scribed as the Ju­ven­tus ‘dis­grace’, won­der­ing aloud how many events like this, or­gan­ised by UEFA and the FA, he must at­tend be­fore some­thing changed.

‘It’s al­ways the same thing,’ Toure said. ‘Are we go­ing to have con­fer­ence after con­fer­ence and noth­ing hap­pens?’

Ja­son Roberts spoke so pow­er­fully that you won­dered why he is not at the van­guard of the FA’s own at­tempts to shed the game of this scourge. Roberts pro­vides a per­spec­tive like few oth­ers, hav­ing wit­nessed his un­cle, Cyrille Regis, wage his own fight against the big­ots who, let us make no mis­take, pop­u­late Bri­tish sta­di­ums, too.

Ra­heem Ster­ling’s suc­cinct and quite ex­cel­lent take- down of Bonucci on so­cial me­dia un­der­lined what Roberts said about the new ways that this gen­er­a­tion of play­ers are find­ing to chal­lenge and cut down the in­tel­lec­tu­ally-chal­lenged big­ots.

‘They have now their own me­dia chan­nels, with their reach, their re­ac­tion and what they are able to ef­fect,’ Roberts said. ‘They are not wait­ing to speak to a re­porter...’

But just nine days after the abuse of Ster­ling was a source of such jus­ti­fi­able dis­gust, what struck you about the calling out of Bonucci and Al­le­gri is that it played out on dis­tinct racial lines. For those of ev­ery colour to join arms would have mag­ni­fied the id­iocy of the no­tion that Kean had the abuse com­ing to him.

‘It should not just be for the black play­ers to stand up to this,’ said Roberts, de­vel­op­ment di­rec­tor of CON­CA­CAF, foot­ball’s gov­ern­ing body in North America. ‘It should be for all of foot­ball.’ All the right noises are made when, as in Pod­gor­ica last week, race be­comes one of the game’s pass­ing con­tro­ver­sies and sud­denly the story. But there were only two na­tional news­pa­pers present yes­ter­day to hear Toure, Roberts and oth­ers con­trib­ute to what was pub­li­cised as a gen­eral dis­cus­sion on di­ver­sity.

FA chair­man Greg Clarke gave a strong ad­dress to the two- day event on Tues­day. But he did not stay to hear the per­spec­tives of the women who fol­lowed him on stage to talk about di­ver­sity. Clarke’s head­line state­ment was that the racism thresh­old for ref­er­ees walk­ing play­ers from the field should be low­ered.

But Bib­iana Stein­haus, the first woman to ref­eree in the Bundesliga, pro­vided some in­sight yes­ter­day into how com­plex tak­ing play­ers off the field ac­tu­ally is.

‘You de­pend on the re­ac­tions of the play­ers,’ Stein­haus said. ‘You don’t want to put any­one in a bad spot but you need to know how the player feels. Do you feel of­fended or is it me who thinks you feel of­fended?’

It was left to an or­gan­i­sa­tion called the Ital­ian Sport for All As­so­ci­a­tion to speak in the Ital­ian FA’s ab­sence. Daniela Conti said: ‘I’m ashamed to be Ital­ian in this moment. We have [to take] some re­spon­si­bil­ity.’

Foot­ball has been fooled into com­pla­cency about this bat­tle be­ing won. ‘Play­ers of this new gen­er­a­tion are be­ing asked to use their tal­ent to show this is not ac­cept­able, as my Un­cle Cyrille did,’ Roberts said. ‘In 2019 that shows how far we have to go.’


Flash­point: Kean (left) is pushed away from Cagliari fans by Bonucci

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