Racism: the surprising explanations of Francesco Acerbi


By: Manu Tournoux

This is the case that has been talked about across Italy for many days. Accused by Juan Jesus of having treated the Brazilian defender of Napoli as a “dirty nigger” during the clash between the Partenopei and Inter just before the international break, Francesco Acerbi was finally acquitted, after being ejected from the Italian selection during of the March gathering. But while this decision provoked the ire of Naples and Juan Jesus, who is ready to go to court for this matter, the 36-year-old defender remained silent. Relaxed for a few days, the former Lazio Rome player took the opportunity to finally speak to Corriere della Sera on this affair which forever tarnished his reputation. A new postulate of which Acerbi is fully aware: “I am sad and sorry: this is a case in which we all lost. When I was acquitted, I saw the people around me reacting as if I had been released after ten years in prison. Everyone had already passed the sentence before it was even pronounced. And for many, I am still racist today: honestly, I do not agree with that, the media pillory is not good and above all it is not useful for solving a problem. Like that of racism which certainly exists. And I don't even want to diminish this a little: I want it to be clear.»

But while his case is now problematic in the eyes of public opinion, explanations were expected from the internal defender. And the least we can say is that some of his excuses are clumsy… “My teammates know me well and know what a man I am. Why am I only speaking now? I had confidence in justice and I did not want to risk fueling an already enormous uproar. Now that there is a sentence, I would like to have my say, without having absolutely nothing against Juan. Hell, actually it's the opposite because I'm really sorry for him too. But you can't call someone a racist for a misunderstood word in the heat of the game. And you can't continue to do it even after I've done it. I was acquitted. There was no racism on the pitch and I am not a racist person. My idol was George Weah and when my tumor was discovered, I received a surprise phone call from him which still touches me today.»

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