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Roma players to wear ‘Black Lives Matter’ badge on shirts

Milan (AFP) – AS Roma players will display a ‘Black Lives Matter’ anti-racism badge on their shirts for the remainder of the season which resumes this weekend, the Italian club announced on Thursday.

“We feel it’s a timely opportunity to communicate an important message to millions of television viewers around the world,” said Paul Rogers, chief strategy officer at AS Roma said on the club web site.

“Not being racist isn’t enough. We must be anti-racist,” he continued speaking of the global protests sparked by the killing of George Floyd in the United States.

Italian football is regularly beset by racism controversies with players of African origin often targeted for abuse. 

Brazilian player Dalbert of Fiorentina, Inter Milan’s Belgian striker Romelu Lukaku and AC Milan’s Ivorian Franck Kessie have been targeted by monkey calls this season.

Blaise Matuidi, Kalidou Koulibaly and Moise Kean were also victims last season.

In September, Roma banned a fan for life and informed the police of racist abuse aimed at their own Brazilian fullback Juan Jesus and in October they issued an apology after their supporters racially abused Sampdoria’s English midfielder Ronaldo Vieira.

The American-owned Italian team will return to action after the three-month coronavirus shutdown against Sampdoria in an empty Stadio Olimpico next Wednesday.

Players will wear the badge featuring two clasped hands — one black and one white — with the words ‘Black Lives Matter’ and ‘Assieme’ (‘Together’ in Italian) for a total of 12 Serie A games, the last of which will be in Turin against Juventus.

The club, who are fifth in Serie A and battling for Champions League football next season, will then auction off all the worn shirts to raise money for anti-racism groups and the Roma Cares group, to help develop new club-run, anti-racist initiatives with children in Italy.

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