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Black players still regarded as inferior by many Italian fans

Luther Blissett has criticised attempts by governing bodies to tackle racism in Italian football after a “horrifying” newspaper headline reminded him of his time facing abuse at AC Milan in the 1980s.

Roma and AC Milan last night issued club bans on the Corriere dello Sport for using the headline ‘Black Friday’ alongside pictures of Romelu Lukaku and Chris Smalling ahead of Friday night’s match between Inter Milan and Roma at the San Siro.​

However, Blissett, the first black player to score a hat-trick for England, cited other racist incidents this season as evidence that even more dramatic interventions are overdue by governing bodies and, potentially, police. Blissett believes it will take punishments handed out by authorities on the scale of those during the nation’s corruption scandal to curb the crisis.​

“It beggars belief that a paper would do this in 2019,” Blissett, 61, said of the headline. “It takes me back to headlines from the early-1980s, but at that time it was often the media drawing attention to ethnicity intending, by and large, to be positive yet clumsy in their descriptive choices. This is not. After so many incidents this season alone, you’ve got to agree that there’s something cultural in Italy and that’s why they have resisted education and change.”​

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