‘Racism can only be tackled at the top’: Cole

Footballer Ashley Cole, who signed with AS Roma earlier this month, said on Tuesday that racism in Italian sport can only be tackled with a top-down approach.

'Racism can only be tackled at the top': Cole
Ashley Cole signed with AS Roma earlier this month. Photo: Ben Stansall/AFP

Speaking to journalists in Rome on Tuesday, the former Chelsea and England player said that racism is “for higher people in football to deal with”, rather than something than can be overcome by individual players.

“Of course it’s a serious matter, but until something is done a little bit higher then it’s never going to change,” Cole said.

The British footballer arrived in the Italian capital earlier this month to join AS Roma, which came second in Italy’s Serie A league last season.

Cole said he had high hopes for his time with the squad: “It’s an ambitious club, and hopefully we can do something special next season and win the league.”

The 33-year-old told journalists he “jumped at the chance” to move after the “love” shown by staff at the club.

Cole also said he was keen to get to grips with life in Italy. “I’ve never been out of London, there’s a big opportunity for me to try another language, a different culture and a different way of living,” he said, speaking through a translator.

Transfers from the English Premier League to Serie A are rare, a point Cole put down to players being “scared” to leave home.

“I think English players are probably scared to come abroad, they’re in a comfort zone,” he said.

Cole, however, was an exception to the rule: “As soon as I knew I had the chance to come abroad and come to Italy, and come to this great club, it was something I wanted to do.”

READ MORE: Ashley Cole welcomed by Roma after Chelsea exit

The former England player was released from Chelsea in May, ending an eight-year career with the club. Including his earlier time at Arsenal, Cole made a total of 385 appearances in the Premier League.

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Euro 2020: Concern about virus spread after Italy players’ ‘unauthorised’ victory parade through Rome

Italy’s national football team reportedly insisted on taking an open-top bus tour through Rome to show off their European Championship trophy to crowds of fans - despite city authorities forbidding it amid concern about the spread of coronavirus.

Euro 2020: Concern about virus spread after Italy players' ‘unauthorised’ victory parade through Rome
Photo: Tiziana Fabi/AFP

The team’s bus parade through the city on Monday night following their Euro 2020 triumph “was not authorised”, according to Matteo Piantedosi the head of Rome’s prefettura (the public safety authority).

Thousands of fans packed the streets of central Rome to see the team celebrate their cup win after beating England on penalties in the final.

READ ALSO: ‘Football came home’: Italy celebrates Euro 2020 victory over England

Piantedosi told Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera on Wednesday: “We had denied permission to celebrate Italy’s victory in the European Championships on the open bus, but the pact was not respected.”

Piantedosi, who is Rome’s top public security official, said police had “no choice” but to let the parade go ahead after players Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci insisted on it.

Photo: Vincenzo Pinto/AFP

A meeting had been held on Friday with the Italian football federation (FIGC) to discuss plans for the celebrations if Italy won, said Piantedosi.

“I had agreed the line with Interior Minister Luciana Lamorgese and Chief of Police Lamberto Giannini,” he said.

“It was clearly explained that [the parade] was not possible. We said we could not authorize it.”

Piantedosi said the Italian football federation (FIGC) initially agreed to hold a “controlled” ceremony in Rome’s central Piazza del Popolo instead of the parade.

After players insisted on the bus tour on Monday however, Piantedosi said, authorities reluctantly let them go ahead due to fears of sparking public disorder.

“At that point we had no choice but to acknowledge the situation and handle it in the best way we could,” he said.

READ ALSO: Covid cases on the rise in Europe once again as WHO warns of Euro 2020 risk

Photo: Andreas Solaro/AFP

In a statement on Wednesday, the FIGC said it had acted responsibly but decided not to disappoint fans who had come to celebrate with the team.

Footage of large crowds thronging the bus carrying the ‘Azzurri’ and the European Championship trophy through the capital however fuelled concerns about new outbreaks of coronavirus, after Italy’s infection rate began to rise again last week.

The World Health Organization warned earlier this month that crowds and gatherings connected to football matches will fuel a new rise in cases across Europe this summer.

READ ALSO: Delta variant in Italy will be ‘prevalent within 10 days’: health official

Italy’s health minister Roberto Speranza also voiced concerns on Monday about the consequences of people gathering to watch sporting events.

He said the European football championship win was “a great joy after terrible months,” but “even in these moments of national pride we can’t forget that our ‘game’ to defeat Covid is not yet won.”

There are currently minimal health restrictions in place across Italy, however masks are supposed to be worn in crowded public places, including outdoors.

“Footage shows that police were virtually the only ones [in the crowd] wearing masks,” said Piantedosi.