The man who adopted Seid Visin insists that the 20-year-old did not commit suicide on June 3 of this year as a result of racist abuse suffered at the hands of those around him. Walter Visin is defiantly pushing back against the narrative that a death note released after Seid’s death seems to suggest.
“That was an old letter from 2019. My son did not die because he felt discriminated against and I ask anyone to stop supporting this lie. As for why he did it, there are some questions that do not have an answer, as with any youngster who expresses his unhappiness,” Walter told a local Italian newspaper.
Walter’s requests will be respected by this article. But his insistence does not answer the question of why the young man gave up on living. Even though we may never know, it is not out of place to speculate on the possibility of a link between the 2019 note and taking his life on June 3 this year.
The note was published to Facebook by Seid’s psychotherapist after the youth’s death. It reads::
Wherever I go, I feel the weight of the sceptical, biased, disgusted and frightened glances of people. I am not an immigrant. I was adopted when I was a child and I remember everybody used to love me. Everywhere I went, everybody was talking to me with joy, respect and curiosity. Now it seems that everything has turned upside down.
I had been able to find a job which I had to leave because too many people, especially the older ones, refused service by me. As if I was not already not feeling at ease, they accused me of being responsible because many young (and white) Italians were not able to find a job.
One cannot tell if Seid was going to become a top-flight player any soon, especially having decided to turn away from the professional game after 2017. At the time of his death, he was playing in an amateur league. But the note details too much for the common observer to skip over. In those two paragraphs, the then 19-year-old captured the resentment of white-majority Italy towards immigrants of his kind.
Seid had been born in Gondar, the northern city in Ethiopia. Walter adopted him into his family when Seid was only seven and Italy became the young Ethiopian’s home. He was enrolled in the youth soccer academy of Italian giants AC Milan at a very young age and is said to have been roommates with the current first-choice goalkeeper of the Italian national team, Gianluigi Donnarumma.
In the note, we read economic anxiety, an eagerness to see Italian identity transcend race and the despair with things that “turned upside down” for a young Black man. He had lived in the country for nearly a decade and a half and even though he was well-versed in Italian culture, some in his environment had misgivings about Seid’s Italianness. That worried him when he was only 19.
Why would a country avail its treacherous underbelly to a person that young? Probably because racism was an unavoidable reality. The question going forward would obviously require an understanding greater than Walter’s wishes.