Friday, December 6, 2019

Football's Black Friday

The front page of Italian sports daily, Corriere dello Sport, December 05, 2019. Image credit: AP 

Corriere dello Sport had featured former Manchester United teammates Romelu Lukaku and Chris Smalling on its front page and headlined it “Black Friday” – and unsurprisingly, a long stream of stinging comments followed in hot pursuit, mostly condemning the Italian sports daily. 

The Belgian who plays as a striker for Inter Milan will see his team face off against the Englishman and his Roma team – both of them meeting for the first time in Serie A today. 

Both clubs announced they would be banning the paper until the end of 2019 over the headline. They added that the prohibition was short because “the actual newspaper article associated with the ‘Black Friday’ headline did portray an anti-racist message”. 

The publication had praised the two players for taking “strong positions against racism and are the symbols of the two clubs”, but Roma tweeted “not a single soul” would think the headline a good idea. 

“Unfortunately, as we’ve seen on social media, more people will see that ill-judged headline on the front page than read the actual article and it creates new issues at a time when we are all trying to tackle the issue of racism in Italian football”, Roma’s Chief Strategy Officer Paul Rogers told AFP

Italian football has seen a number of black players being targeted with racist abuse. Last month, Hellas Verona fans had been invective against Mario Balotelli. AC Milan midfielder Franck Kessie was targeted by Verona supporters. And Lukaku was himself abused at Cagliari. 

Corriere dello Sport was unrepentant, saying the headline was “only the praise of difference, the pride of difference, the magnificent wealth of difference”. 

“White, black, yellow. Denying difference is the typical macroscopic stumbling block of anti-racism racism”, it said in an editorial. “An innocent headline… is transformed into poison by those who have poison inside”. 

Methinks, we sometimes are too overly sensitive.

Liverpool’s 5-2 victory over Everton on Wednesday saw the Reds retaining their eight-point lead at the top of the Premier League and the Toffees dropping into the relegation zone. It also culminated in Everton’s manager Marco Silva getting the sack soon after. 

Divock Origi opened the scoring after just seven minutes and the Reds made it 2-0 through Xherdan Shaqiri ten minutes later. Within three minutes, the Toffees scored – but Origi restored the two-goal advantage in the thirty-first minute. 

Sadio Mane made it 4-1 on the stroke of half-time only for the Toffees to score Everton’s second in stoppage time of the first-half. 

It was the most amount of goals ever scored in a single half of a Merseyside derby – anyway, Gini Wijnaldum added Liverpool's fifth in the ninetieth minute to wrap up the game.

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