BY Ludovica Maria Muttini
The women’s team captain, Concetta “Titty” Astarita, was dropped from Afro-Napoli United after announcing her candidacy as a member of the far-right League political coalition run by Matteo Salvini’s in the upcoming local elections.
Afro-Napoli United woman’s team refused to play last Sunday at the Scafoglio Stadium just outside Naples, in protest of the exclusion of the captain.
The team’s president said he cannot tolerate Astarita’s decision because Afro-Napoli includes migrants and Italians and stands behind anti-racist principles.
And according to a statement issued by the club, “Afro-Napoli United is not like any other teams, it was born as a project of inclusion and integration”, therefore he considers the captain’s candidacy is not acceptable.
The 26-year-old stood by her decision. Astarita said: “I strongly believe in the value and principle of integration and the Afro-Napoli project is an incredible example of racial integration, and that is why I was so proud to be the captain of my team. I didn’t expect to be treated in this way.”
Returning the captain’s armband, just two days before the Sunday game, Astarita shared the club’s decision to exclude her with the whole team who showed solidarity.
Astarita told UWS News: “Despite our different political views, they supported me and I am so grateful for that.
“It was probably one of the best moments I have ever experienced in sport, knowing that my team was there for me.”
Last Sunday, the women’s team was going to play against Napoli Dream Team, however, they refused to take the field and said in a public statement that they were taking Astarita’s side.
A spoke person for the team said: “The decision not to play today’s game follows the accusation against our captain’s, who has been excluded from the team for political reasons. Let us not forget that sport should be non-partisan and apolitical.”
The candidate mayor in the local election, Rosario Pezzella, from the far-right League political coalition added: “Politics should stay outside sport, however, this doesn’t prevent a member of a sports team to engage in local politics especially when is a civic political engagement such as in the case of Titty Astarita.
“This issue arises at a time when there is a total disaffection between citizens and politics, so to have a person like Astarita, who is an athlete and who has also embraced politics from the civic point of view, I believe the president’s team should have praised Astarita instead of dropping her from the team”.
The president’s team, Antonio Gargiulo said he feels sorry by how things turned out with Astarita, however, he doesn’t regret his decision.
“Astarita’s actions put us in a tough position and we feel sorry for her decision to leave the team especially after one year during which she played a key role inside the team. However, she should have understood that her candidacy placed her outside the boundary of the ideology that underlies our association.”
The news spread quickly around Italy and even Italy’s Deputy Prime Minister, Matteo Salvini’s, took to social media to express his views. He tweeted: “The only racists are those of the left. Keep politics out of sport.”