The country’s second highest ranking official has attempted to play down the firestorm surrounding Wednesday’s match at San Siro
Italy’s deputy prime minister Matteo Salvini has attempted to downplay the racist abuse directed at Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly.
Koulibaly was subject to monkey chants in Wednesday’s match against Inter at San Siro, with Napoli boss Carlo Ancelotti complaining that the game should have been stopped.
The incident has led to an outpouring of support for the Senegal international, who was sent off during the game.
But Salvini, who belongs to the right-wing Lega Nord party, is not among those who are offering support to Koulibaly, with the 45-year-old instead comparing the incident to other moments he called “healthy teasing”.
“Racism is the stuff of idiots in 2018, but let’s not put everything in the same pot,” Salvini said during an appearance on Italian TV show Tiki Taka.
“In the stadiums they also sing ‘Milan in flames’, would that be racism too?
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“[Leonardo] Bonucci was booed by the Milan fans, is that racism? Healthy teasing among fans is not to be considered racism.”
Salvini also spoke out about an Inter fan who was killed prior to Wednesday’s match in clashes between ultras.
“I expect answers from the Milan police chiefs, because evidently something didn’t work. There were some criminals who came from abroad to sow violence.
“The vast majority of the organised fans [ultras] are good people, those people yesterday are delinquents, not fans. A fan doesn’t go to a stadium with a knife.
Inter will be forced to play two games behind closed doors as a result of the abuse directed towards Koulibaly.