With Serie A likely to make a return behind closed doors next month amid continued coronavirus fears, Italian football fans have made their feelings clear: football without racism isn't football.
The Italian government are set to make a decision on if and when the Serie A season can resume on 28 May, and in all likelihood any resumption would be with the absence of fans in stadiums, as we have seen already since the German Bundesliga returned last week.
Anticipating the decision for teams to play 'behind closed doors', fans across Italy are already bemoaning the decision, claiming football just isn't the same without the familiar sound of blatant racial abuse echoing throughout the stadium.
44-year-old and lifelong Lazio fan Mario Flippinelli had this to say:
"We cannot continue the season without racism. Italian football is not just about the players or the teams, or even the game itself; it is about all the fans, no matter where they're from or what team they support, coming together in harmony to lay into the blacks and the foreigners.
"It's what sets our league apart from others. The Spanish league might have more Champions League trophies, the English leagues might have a few racists here and there, but nobody does this like the Italians. We have been racially abusing our players for centuries, and I believe their hatred for us makes them better football players. You could say Italian football was built on racism.
"For our teams to continue without hearing someone scream racial slurs at them, looking up to the stands to see a synchronised Nazi salute, or fearing the possibility of having a banana thrown at you, it's impossible. We should wait until people are allowed in the stands again.
"Asking our teams to play football without being racially abused by Italians is like asking Spartacus to fight in an amphitheatre, without being racially abused by Italians. You get the idea."
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