An online exchange between the Italian owner of a Maltese restaurant and a Maltese person during Tuesday’s Italy vs Malta football match caused uproar on social networking site Facebook, with at least three groups urging people to boycott the Xemxija restaurant, Piccola Calabria.
By about 1pm, more than 6,000 people had joined at least one of the groups.
The Italian, writing on the restaurant’s Facebook page after Italy scored the first goal against Malta (the final score was 2-0) said the Maltese should go to pick potatoes instead of playing football (“Andate a raccogliere patate Maltesi, lasciate perdere il calcio, non è cosa per voi”).
Someone replied, saying that if he wasn’t mistaken the Italian restaurateur was earning a living in Malta. The conversation started to degenerate from that point on, with the restaurant owner calling the Maltese people “ignorant Arab Bedouins”, and the person he was having the conversation with “a clown” and “an Arab dog”.
The groups calling for a boycott of the Xemxija restaurant attracted several hundreds of angry people who felt insulted by the Italian’s comments.
One woman said the Italian restaurant owner’s comment “clearly shows his ingratitude towards his customers. It also clearly outlines his ignorance (but then, hey, he is a Calabrese) at insulting those who have earned him a decent living in these years. Lastly, this person is not deserving of our wonderful island. Absolute Boycott.”
Contacted for comment, the owner of the restaurant, Vincenzo Lesiano, said it didn’t make sense to boycott a restaurant over a game of football.
“My comments weren’t directed at the whole Maltese population, but at a particular rude Maltese person who had insulted my family.”
Explaining further in a post on one of the ‘Boycott Piccola Calabria’ groups, his wife (who is Maltese) said that she and her husband had been joking about the football match, and someone from whom she had accepted a request on Facebook, who was a friend of her brother (whom she doesn’t get on well with) interfered and started hurling insults at their family. This naturally angered her and her husband, who then ended up losing it and taking it out on other people.
The restaurant owner’s comment clearly shows his ingratitude towards his customers. It also clearly outlines his ignorance (but then, hey, he is a Calabrese) at insulting those who have earned him a decent living in these years. Lastly, this person is not deserving of our wonderful island