How far should intimidating chants go?
Juventus have been fined 20,000 euros rather than receive a stadium ban for an offensive chant their fans sing about Inter Milan’s black striker Mario Balotelli.
As songs go, it is pretty insulting. “Se saltelli, muore Balotelli” (If you jump up and down, Balotelli will die).
However, the big question is whether the song is racist. The Italian league has decided it is offensive and incites violence but has not classified it as racist, hence the fine and no heftier punishment. Many Italians disagree and say the Juve fans would not sing such a song if he was white.
Of course last season Juve were forced to play a game behind close doors after home fans sang “a black Italian does not exist” at Palermo-born Balotelli in a game with champions Inter.
Most Premier League fans will know of an especially nasty chant aimed at Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger while there are several English songs about getting a gun to “shoot some (most hated rival club) scum”.
In England, fans largely get away with these sorts of chants. But should they go unpunished given there are children in the stadiums? It hardly helps build the fabric of society. Then again, if attempts were made to ban all such chants, would some of the wonderful match-day banter we all enjoy get lost?
The new Juve chant is probably a bit more insulting than the usual taunts and it is towards an individual rather than a club.
Balotelli, 19, has annoyed rival fans and even his own coach Jose Mourinho with his “me against the world” attitude this term, but no one deserves such abuse.
PHOTO: Inter Milan’s Mario Balotelli eyes the ball during their Italian Serie A soccer match against Catania at the San Siro stadium in Milan October 24, 2009. REUTERS/Alessandro Garofalo