AC Milan CEO Ivan Gazidis has reaffirmed the pledge of the club and the responsibility of the league to tackle the issue of racism in Italian football.
Serie A has come under fire in recent years for a number of different high-profile racist incidents, but Gazidis believes it “is not a backward league” and there is “willingness” to address the problems that exist.
Gazidis left his position as Arsenal’s CEO in 2018 to join Milan and has been the face of a lot of different initiatives, in particular an anti-racism task force launched by the club.
He was interviewed by ESPN and took stock of the issue of racism in football and in Italy, with his words transcribed by MilanNews and translated below.
“One of the problems is that people think that talking about racism feeds the problem. This is not true. The problem exists, the first step is to know it and discuss it,” he said.
“Racism is a problem in football in general, not only in Italy, but here we need to know it and work to understand how to change things. It is a social problem, a social evil, as well as being an obstacle in the development of Serie A and its future.
“For all these reasons we must move, there is the will to do so, Italy is not a backward country, Serie A is not a backward league. Eradicating racism is not it’s easy, football reflects the attitudes of society, for this it takes time.”
Gazidis also drew comparisons to what football used to be like in the country that he used to work, namely England, where they had lots of problems with racism behaviour around 30-40 years ago.
“We need to identify those responsible and immediately leave them out of the stadiums. In the 80s England was the hotbed of racism, there are still problems but the new stadiums han not created a more inclusive environment.
“Women, children and people of all backgrounds feel safer. Italian football suffers from antiquated stadiums, even the technology to identify the culprits is antiquated.”