The World Cup winner, who set up a foundation to tackle the problem, feels that education is key in the fight against prejudice and injustice
Former Juventus defender Lilian Thuram does not believe that racism is an “incurable disease” and believes that tackling the problem in football.
Italy has been plagued by incidents of racist abuse this season, with last weekend’s game between AC Milan and Roma at San Siro the latest to have been blighted by ‘monkey chants’.
Thuram supports the decision to punish those responsible of such reprehensible behaviour but he is more concerned with systemic racism, citing the case of the former French Football Federation (FFF) national technical director Francois Blaquart to highlight the kind of issues that he feels the game must address.
“In my opinion, [racism] is no worse in Italy than elsewhere: I lived there happily,” the 41-year-old Frenchman, who set up a foundation to tackle racism, told Tuttosport. “I have a lot of friends in Parma and Torino and I got back there with pleasure.
“And I’m not afraid of those, even in the stadia, that represent a small minority. Rather, there are other signs to worry me.
“For example, when a French coach talks of quotas for blacks and Arabs. Ideas such as these are far worse than any chants.
“But things can change, rapidly. Until 1994, there was apartheid in South Africa. Then Nelson Mandela became president.
“Racism is not a incurable disease. It just needs education. And that is why I’m committed. Even France, sooner or later, will have its [Barack] Obama.”
Turning his attention to his playing days, Thuram said that when it comes to discussing those that had a great influence on him, two men stand tall above all others.
“The most important coaches during my career were Arsene Wenger [at Monaco] and Carlo Ancelotti [at Parma],” the World Cup winner enthused.
Thuram also revealed that he is not in the least bit surprised that former Juve team-mate Antonio Conte, who has now led the Bianconeri to back-to-back titles, has proven ideally suited to the world of coaching, explaining that the ex-midfielder was always an influential character.
“With Conte in the dressing room, there was no need for a lot of words: one just followed him,” he added.