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Euro 2020 and the Italian-style Black Lives Matter



Euro 2020 and the Italian-style Black Lives Matter

The Black Lives Matter landed at the Europeans, but it was not received by everyone in the same way.

Mostly, the behavior of the Italian national team seemed ambiguous, certainly not very cohesive. And if now it seems that, in tomorrow’s match against Belgium, all our players will kneel “in solidarity”, well, the decision looks like a hasty and messed up patch.

Let’s try to retrace what happened during the initial phase of Euro 2020, the European football championship in full swing, and to find out more about the important symbolic function of the fetish gesture of kneeling during the national anthems.

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Then let’s see what was, and what will be, the position of the players of the national team coached by Roberto Mancini.

What is Black Lives Matter

Meanwhile, it is necessary to briefly recall what Black Lives Matter is.

It is an international movement against racism, and more precisely against the abuses (and murders) of the Police against African Americans.. Black Lives Matter was born in 2013 after the acquittal of George Zimmerman, who shot 17-year-old (African American) Trayvon Martin on February 26, 2012, killing him.

The importance of the movement was amplified after the murder of George Floyd, killed by suffocation by agent Derek Chauvin on May 25, 2020.

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Black Lives Matter immediately had the support of important personalities from the world of sportfrom American football champion Colin Kaepernick to US women’s soccer team captain Megan Rapinoe.

The symbolic gesture of the athletes who support the cause of Black Lives Matter is to kneel while performing the national anthem of their country.

It all started with Colin Kaepernick

Colin Kaepernick was the first athlete in the world to kneel during the anthem: “I will not stand for a country that oppresses blacks and ethnic minorities, it would be selfish to look the other way. There are corpses on the streets and people who get away with it ”.

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The consequences of his action and his words? The termination of the contract, the invitation of the newly installed President Donald Trump to change country, and in 2018 – for the first time in the history of the United States – the cancellation of the visit to the White House of the Super Bowl winners.

The European Football Championships and Black Lives Matter

The gesture of kneeling has broadened its meaning, and has for some time become the sign of generic adherence to anti-racism.

Much felt in various European football leagues, the gesture was repeated punctually before all the matches of the last Premier League championship.the top English football division.

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And so the Black Lives Matter also brought its strong symbolic value to the Europeans. The kneeling Belgian national team, and above all the charismatic figure of Romelu Lukaku, with his head down and his right fist raised, are images that have entered the memory of many.

A good sign, given that in almost all the countries participating in the European football championship there are more or less new forms of racism, politically organized or not. And some national teams participating in Euro 2020, such as Hungary, even have organic groups of fans who are admittedly far-right.

And how did Italy behave?

The Europeans and Black Lives Matter: what Italy has done

In the opening match of Euro 2020, played on 11 June against Turkey, no Italian footballer knelt. Not bad, one might say: it was the very first game, and it was played against a nation whose premier does not shine for liberality.

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Nothing even before the next meeting, which opposed us to Switzerland. And then, on the evening of Sunday 20, before the match against Wales, something changed. The opponents had already decided to kneel compactly, and they did.

Our? All beautifully standing, except for five players: Federico Bernardeschi, Andrea Belotti, Emerson Palmieri, Matteo Pessina and Rafael Toloi knelt.

So, a half win? No, it seems to us rather an almost total defeat.

Because, as Claudio Marchisio (former footballer and now Rai commentator) said well, although it is an individual gesture, it would have been nice to see a nation (because that’s what the Italian football team represents when it takes the field: the whole nation) all united against racism.

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Which is not just a more or less creeping phenomenon from below. Suffice it to say that France did not kneel against Germany after far-right protests. And Nigel Farage, former leader of the Brexit Party (one of the main architects of the United Kingdom’s exit from the EU), serenely declared: “Kneeling is a Marxist gesture”.

That is why it would be, and always will be, the time to kneel. All together.

The cliché (?) Of the Italian footballer detached from reality

We would like with all our heart to dispel the cliché according to which the professional footballer, at least in Italy, is considered a poor (so to speak) boy with a low level of education, little or nothing attentive to what is happening around him.

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We would like to, but how can we do it, after having listened to the words of Giorgio Chiellini before Italy-Austria? The captain of the national team, out due to injury, said: “We will not kneel, but we will do something against Nazism”. Yes, not racism: Nazism.

What will happen before Italy-Belgium

It seems that before tomorrow’s match, Black Lives Matter will also be colored blue at the European football championships: our players will all kneel.

But beware: not out of conviction, but out of “solidarity with the Belgians”.

That is a’statement either serious or at least little weighted. Because it means: we will not kneel as we too are firmly opposed to any form of racism, but only to support those who really are.

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Not to fall into the usual Italian-style victimhood, but phrases like this from Lukaku still seem far, too far, from the mentality of our players: “I don’t kneel just as a sign of solidarity with the Black Lives Matter campaign. I am against any kind of discrimination, for example even those of gender or any other type. We must respect everyone, for me it is the most important thing. “