Last month, in a match against Lazio at Rome’s Stadio Olimpico, Napoli center-back Kalidou Koulibaly was subjected to booing, derogatory whistling, and racially-discriminatory songs by Lazio supporters, causing the referee to put the match on hold to restore order.
“Everyone in Naples is offended by what happened to our young star,” read a statement released by Quelli del Sangue Azzurr (The Blue Blooded Ones), a group of a group of Napoli supporters. “Because of this, we want to show our full support to Koulibaly.”
While Serie A fined Lazio €50,000 and ordered their home stadium Curva Nord shut down for two games as a consequence, Napoli fans showed their support for Koulibaly in their next match gainst Carpi by donning masks with his image, as well as painting their own faces as a show of solidarity and camaraderie.
Napoli fans proudly showing a sign that reads “It is an honour to be like you”, in support of Napoli centerback Kalidou Koulibaly. (fourfourtwo.com)
In football, a team does not simply compete with the 11 players from the opposing club – they also go against their fans. Who needs a marching band when you have more than 100,000 fans singing songs and chanting in unison? Who needs a mascot when you have fans with their faces painted with your team logo and can turn into human banners that put fancy billboards on high-rise buildings to shame?
In a highly competitive environment, there could be moments when things can get out of hand. However, thanks to the powerful stand of the true fans of the beautiful game, a prevailing issue that must be addressed was brought to light. These fans may not be on the field to play with their team, but they sure do know how to make them feel that they have their backs.