Friday, March 7, 2014, 00:01
Serie A team Cagliari, led by midfielder Daniele Dessena, are taking on entrenched homophobia in Italian soccer by wearing rainbow coloured laces in their boots to express solidarity with gay people.
Dessena joined a campaign promoted by gay rights groups when he donned the multi-coloured laces at the San Siro against Inter on Feb. 23.
Struggling Cagliari managed a 1-1 draw with their rivals, but Dessena was the target of homophobic abuse from many of the Sardinian team’s own fans.
Rather than withdraw from the limelight, however, Dessena hit back, calling his critics “stupid and ignorant,” and announcing he would wear the laces for the rest of the season.
“We should all do something to improve our society, not just fighting homophobia but also racism and all the other types of discrimination,” Dessena said.
“I didn’t think wearing two coloured bootlaces could spark all this furore, this shows Italian society is really backwards.”
At Cagliari’s last game at home to Udinese on Sunday, three of Dessena’s team-mates also wore the rainbow laces, Mauricio Pinilla, Victor Ibarbo and Danilo Avelar.