Acerbi's racist insult to Juan Jesus cannot be justified

“What happens in the football field stays there. When the referee blows the final whistle, it ends there. Inside the football field it’s okay to say anything.” Juan Jesus’ words at the end of Inter Napoli are a genteel way to protect the status and reputation of Francesco Acerbi. But nothing can erase an N-word said during a Serie A big match, especially on the special day dedicated to the battle against racism. And there is no justification or alibi for a racist insult said by one of the pillars of the Italian national team.

“Acerbi apologized to me, he’s a smart guy,” the Brazilian said after reporting the incident to referee La Penna, who didn’t eject Acerbi. But apologies can no longer be enough. And what happens on the football field, doesn’t stay on the football field. Because one racist word and thought can touch millions of people. Because a man, an athlete who should be an example, cannot afford to ruin a day that’s as symbolic as it’s, sadly, topical.

If Francesco Acerbi’s dramatic and courageous personal story continues to inspire, this shadow will be hard to forget. Racism doesn’t end at the triple whistle. Racism ends when it truly ceases to exist. And the world of football, once again, has proved to be far away from this fundamental social and human goal.


IMAGO / AFLOSPORT / Goal Sports Images

Gianmarco Pacione