Victim of racism, star volleyball player Paola Egonu explodes and shakes the country
What’s the use of playing to represent fools? This is, in essence, the question that Paola Egonu is currently asking, and which does not fail to agitate all of Italy at the start of the week. The volleyball player is, at only 23 years old, one of the executives of the Italian selection, freshly bronze medalist at the world championship disputed in Poland and the Netherlands. But after the small final won against the United States on Saturday, the peak of 1.93 my exploded. “It’s tiring, they asked me why I’m Italian. This is my last game with La Nazionale,” she told her agent after receiving her medal, in a stolen footage that quickly made the rounds on social media across the country.
In question, the many racist insults received after the semi-final against Brazil, during which the player missed a service when her team could pocket the 3rd set and lead 2-1. Italy then lost three sets to one. What annoy some idiots, who see in this daughter of immigrants from Nigeria in the 1990s the perfect culprit. Not the first time. As reminded The Parisianshe had notably been the target of despicable attacks when she had been chosen to be the flag bearer of her country at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021.
A few minutes after the tears, Egonu came to explain herself in the mixed zone. “The comments, we read them, it reaches the players and it hurts, exposed the one who, from year to year, has more and more difficulty getting over it all.If I put on this shirt, that means I feel Italian, it hurts me that anyone can doubt that. I wonder why I have to represent people who write these things to me. »
Mario Draghi’s call
A little later, his agent Carlo Raguzzoni tried to calm things down. Gazzetta dello Sport. She was a little disappointed because when she plays badly, she is in the eye of the storm and that hurt her. »
Nevertheless, these remarks have been widely commented on in Italy, especially in the political class, where the context is explosive. In a few weeks, Giorgia Meloni, president of the post-fascist party Fratelli d’Italia, will form a new coalition government between the right and the far right after winning the last elections. The current Prime Minister, Mario Draghi, called her personally to ask her not to give in, Italian media reports.
In this affair with national repercussions, the time is now for appeasement. In any case, this is the meaning of the speech by the president of the Volleyball Federation, Giuseppe Manfredi, who called for calm on Sunday. “The door will always be open for her, she has our jersey tattooed on her skin, he assured. After such a long competition and weeks of gathering, we can still say hot things. Now we all need to calm down and think about what’s next, since the next convocations will be in 2023. There’s no reason she can’t be here. Volleyball is for total integration, certainly not racism. »
A call listened to and heard by the person concerned. “It’s not a farewell, because it would prove them right. I want to take this step aside in order to make people think,” admitted Paola Egonu. The player will now take time and distance. In the primary sense of the term. She is expected this week in Turkey, where she has just signed for the VakıfBank club in Istanbul.