Why Napoli knelt in protest ahead of Atalanta match

Napoli players ahead of their match against Atalanta | Imago

Why Napoli knelt in protest ahead of Atalanta match

Ayoola Kelechi 15:07 - 30.03.2024

Napoli players staged a protest by taking a knee ahead of their Serie A fixture against Atalanta

Napoli players made a powerful statement against racism ahead of their match against Atalanta, opting to take the knee amidst ongoing controversy surrounding alleged racist remarks in Serie A.

Acerbi-Juan Jesus Controversy

The recent weeks have been marked by controversy over alleged racist comments made by Inter defender Francesco Acerbi towards Juan Jesus, with the FIGC clearing Acerbi due to lack of evidence.

Napoli's decision not to adhere to the 'official' Lega Serie A anti-racism campaign served as a response to this decision, sparking their own initiative against racism.

Napoli's Independent Anti-Racism Campaign

In defiance of the league's stance, Napoli scrapped the 'Keep Racism Out' patch worn by other teams and launched their own anti-racism campaign. Before kick-off, a message was delivered by speaker Decibel Bellini, actor Marco D’Amore, and Under-15 Napoli player Mane Seik, emphasizing the club's stance against racism. The crowd at the Stadio Maradona echoed their sentiment with chants of "NO to Racism."

Mauro Meluso, Napoli's director of sport, expressed the club's disappointment with the handling of the Acerbi-Juan Jesus situation and their decision to withdraw from institutional anti-racism initiatives. Meluso emphasized the need for actions beyond mere apologies in combating racism.

Symbolism behind taking the knee

Ahead of the match, Napoli players took the knee during the Lega Serie A anthem, symbolizing their solidarity and determination to combat racism. The gesture, borrowed from the Black Lives Matter protests and adopted widely in the Premier League, served as a pointed response to the authorities' handling of the racism issue in Serie A.

Napoli's defiant actions ahead of the Atalanta match underscored their commitment to fighting racism in football. By refusing to adhere to institutional campaigns and launching their own initiatives, Napoli sent a clear message that mere apologies are not enough in addressing systemic issues of racism. The symbolic act of taking the knee served as a visible reminder of the ongoing battle against injustice in the sport.

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