Italy’s lead­ers on spot over foot­ball racism

The New European - - Agenda -

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

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