Italy’s leaders on spot over football racism
TURIN: Keen observers of Italian football were saddened but not surprised by a recent bout of racist abuse directed at black players. In a match between Napoli and Inter Milan, the crowd repeatedly subjected Napoli’s centre-back Kalidou Koulibaly to monkey noises, prompting his team to request a halt to the match. One fan later died after post-match clashes between supporters.
La Stampa’s Gianni Riotta was present in the stadium with his grown-up children, who were among the fans to take the racists to task for their behaviour. “My son’s stature offers solid reasons to dissuade extremists,” he observed.
But the racism and violence have reverberated around the world, he noted, inflicting a serious blow on Milan’s reputation – and on Italian society more generally.
“Those who through racism betray the sport and Inter Milan – ‘the brothers of the world’ – cause huge damage to society, to Milan, to our country,” Riotta said. “The beautiful game is a faithful mirror of our world: from the lowest leagues through to the national team, 2019 must bring Italy back to where it deserves to be, victorious and decent,” he wrote.
It is a message that Matteo Salvini, Italy’s far-right interior minister, ought to heed, Riotta added.
“Perhaps now [he] will understand the lethal signal he sends by embracing ultras convicted for dealing,” he said.
“In the meantime, all of us sports fans can push back against the loutish Ku
Klux Klan of the stadiums, like my sons did.”
Will Belarus go the way of Ukraine?
MOSCOW: Recent meetings between Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin have caused quite a stir. After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Belarus remained closely aligned with Russia both politically and economically.
Yet the countries’ recent talks, primarily regarding oil and gas prices, exposed cracks in their once-fraternal relationship.
Writing in Vzglyad, an online business newspaper, political scientist Dmitri Rodionov lambasted Lukashenko for his attitude towards this special relationship, arguing Belarus “wants to get everything without doing anything” in return.
“Until now, Belarus has bought oil from Russia at the domestic market rate,” he observed. However, Minsk makes a sizable profit by selling it abroad at “exorbitant prices”, meaning “Moscow has lost up to $3 billion on this annually,” Rodionov claimed.
Despite this, Lukashenko firmly believes that “the Kremlin is trying to force Minsk to give up sovereignty and become part of Russia,” he suggested. But his controversial views only “increase the chance of causing a Belarusian Euromaidan,” the pro-eu demonstrations that rocked Ukraine in 2013, Rodionov warned.
For Rodionov, Lukashenko has often flip-flopped in his stance towards Russia. He wanted a single ‘Union State’ back in the 1990s – at that time “the loss of sovereignty didn’t concern him. Everything changed when Putin came to power. Lukashenko was offered the chance to adopt the constitution of the ‘Union State’, to equate the regions of Belarus with the regions of Russia and to move over to the Russian ruble, but Lukashenka kept quiet,” Rodionov remarked.
But now Moscow has run out of patience with Lukashenko, he said. Belarus’ politicians have two options. “They either implement the plan that Lukashenko proposed 20 years ago, or alternatively they turn their back on Moscow and go West. Should they choose the latter, I recommend they carefully study the recent history of another neighbouring state.”
How not to talk to the Far-right
BERLIN: Austria’s far-right Freedom Party, junior coalition partner in the national government, achieved a public relations triumph after Seyran Ates, a Berlin-based lawyer and self-proclaimed Muslim feminist, participated in a conference it had organised on “political Islam and its dangers for Europe”.
Ates was born in Turkey to Kurdish parents before moving to Germany and has long advocated for renewal within Islam, even founding a new ‘liberal mosque’ in Berlin. But her appearance at a forum organised by Austria’s far-right was met with incredulity by commentators back home in Germany. Writing in Die Tageszeitung, journalist Hilal Sezgin said it was a textbook example of how sharing a platform with extremists can go wrong.
Although Ates stressed during the event that she was committed to progressive values, she simply acted as a useful pawn for the Freedom Party, Sezgin said. That is because she failed to dish out any meaningful criticism of its views, leaving the party to claim it was more intellectually tolerant than those on the liberal left who had condemned Ates’ decision.
“We shouldn’t give a good face to a rotten game,” she urged readers. “We must vehemently contradict those on the right and intervene if necessary when they spread fake news.
“Does anyone still remember that people who warned about a swing to the right were mocked for years and years?” Sezgin Compiled by Simon Pickstone, English editor, Voxeurop, a website covering European news and comment which publishes in 10 different languages. Find out more at www.voxeurop. eu/en