Last week, the Milan AC soccer team walked off the pitch after some supporters of the opponents “yelled abuse at black teammates”. Why does this happen in Europe, during sport matches? 

Celestine Bohlen has a thorough look at the issue:

There it is, “identity,” a word that gets flashed like a red card as people struggle to determine what it means to be French, Belgian, British or Russian in an era of large-scale immigration, and economic globalization.

The problem is that this debate typically turns defensive, with identity defined in narrow, exclusive terms. The issue may be a reflection of a popular uneasiness over waves of new arrivals from abroad, but the terms of the discussion are rarely about integration, or tolerance.

In France, then-President Nicolas Sarkozy started a febrile — and largely futile — debate on the state of the nation’s identity in 2009. It was a flop right from the start as critics questioned the usefulness of any discussion set in motion by a presidential decree.