Juventus star forward Cristiano Ronaldo has come to the defence of Kalidou Koulibaly after the Napoli defender was the target of racist chants during a match against Inter Milan.
Next to a photo of him being marked by Koulibaly during a match between Napoli and Juventus earlier this season, Ronaldo writes in Italian on Instagram, “In the world and in football there always needs to be education and respect. No to racism and to any sort of insult and discrimination!!!”
Koulibaly had monkey noises directed at him throughout the Serie A game on Wednesday at Milan’s San Siro stadium.
He was sent off in the 81st minute after receiving two yellow cards in quick succession, the second for sarcastically applauding the referee after being shown the first.
Koulibaly earlier made a decisive goal-line clearance to deny Inter captain Mauro Icardi.
After the game, Napoli coach Carlo Ancelotti threatened to lead his team off the field the next time one of his players was subjected to continued racist abuse.
Ancelotti asked several times for the match against Inter to be halted after the chants, and announcements warning fans this would happen were made but no further action was taken.
Koulibaly posted on Twitter of his pride of being born in France to Senegalese parents.
“I’m sorry about the defeat and especially to have left my brothers! But I am proud of the colour of my skin. Of being French, Senegalese, Neapolitan: a man,” he wrote in Italian.
Inter beat Napoli 1-0 for the first time in nearly 50 years — since 1971.
Meanwhile, the mayor of Milan said yesterday he was ashamed of the racist chants directed at Senegal defender Kalidou Koulibaly during Wednesday’s Serie A match between Inter and Napoli at the San Siro.
Sala also asked the Napoli player for forgiveness on behalf of the city of Milan.
The 27-year-old had been subjected to monkey noises from home supporters throughout the match. He was later sent off as Inter won the game 1-0. Victory, though, was overshadowed by the chanting.
“The boos aimed at Koulibaly were shameful,” said Sala on Facebook.
“A shameful act towards a true athlete who wears the colour of his skin with pride.”
The mayor, who was at the San Siro for the match, said he would continue to go to games but would not tolerate any racist chanting.
“I will continue to watch Inter but at the first chant I will make a small gesture. I will get up and leave. I will do it for myself, aware that whoever abuses a black athlete won’t give a damn about me,” said Sala. — AFP-AP.