When we last checked in with United States forward Jozy Altidore, he was scoring this stunning volley vs. Germany on Sunday. During the build up to last week’s match the New York Times’ Sam Borden sat down with the New Jersey-born Altidore, recounting what happened during a Dutch Cup game earlier this year when he was racially abused by opposing fans after scoring a penalty kick.
Altidore told the Times:
“Racism in football is not a little problem; it’s a big problem, a problem that is more alive than people realize.”
This season, playing for Dutch Cup winners AZ, Altidore put together the best goal-scoring season by an American in Europe, tallying 31 times across all competitions. His prowess in front of the goal has made him the subject of transfer rumors to a bigger club, including Lazio of Italy’s Serie A.
Racism in Italian soccer has been an ongoing issue and earlier this week ESPN’s Wright Thompson wrote a lengthy piece exploring the topic from the ground level. Altidore told the Times the challenge of playing in Italy and the opportunity to confront racism in soccer head-on would make a move to Serie A more appealing:
“To go and face it at the root? It would almost make it more appealing to go there.”
After a moment, he added: “I’m not saying Italy is a racist country, but it would be a good opportunity to take a stance. Italy is a stage.”
Then he shrugged. “If anything,” he said, “it would make it feel like there’s more to win, there’s more to gain.”
Altidore and the rest of the U.S. National Team face Jamaica tonight in Kingston in a World Cup Qualifier.