Napoli fans will wear Kalidou Koulibaly masks during Saturday’s clash with Bologna in a show of support for the defender after he was subjected to discriminatory abuse.
The 27-year-old, born in France to Senegalese parents, was allegedly subjected to monkey chants throughout his side’s 1-0 loss to Inter in midweek.
Koulibaly was sent off in the game, as he was first booked for a foul and then given a second yellow card for sarcastically applauding the referee.
His manager, Carlo Ancelotti, defended his centre-back afterwards, however, insisting that the club asked for the game to be suspended three times due to the abuse aimed at Koulibaly, leading to announcements over the PA system.
Inter will now play two home league games behind closed doors as punishment, though they have yet to decide whether to launch an appeal.
The Italian also made it clear that he would have no hesitation in telling his team to abandon a match if it were to happen again.
“Maybe we have to take matters into our own hands next time and stop play ourselves. They’ll probably make us lose the game if we walk off, but we are prepared to do it,” he said.
And fans are now also ready to show their solidarity with Koulibaly, with a supporters group preparing to hand out masks with Koulibaly’s face on, as well as t-shirts bearing his name.
Koulibaly’s team-mate Faouzi Ghoulam has already shown his support through Twitter, posting a picture of himself wearing the mask, along with the message: “It does not matter the colour of skin. It does not matter religion. It does not matter which team you cheer for.
“Football, like all sports, is a game. And all the games are passion. Fun, freedom and in freedom we are all the same. Tomorrow we will all be Koulibaly!”
Supporters previously donned Koulibaly masks in 2016 after Lazio fans subjected the defender to racial abuse. The chants led to the game being stopped for three minutes in the second half.