Games must be stopped if racism takes place, declares Italian football chief

Italian match officials will be told to follow international guidelines in dealing with racist behaviour from fans following outcry over the treatment of Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly.

Gabriele Gravina, the head of the country’s football federation (FIGC), told Gazzetta dello Sport that his organisation would in future  “simplify” the procedure for dealing with racist incidents.

"The FIGC should follow the procedures of UEFA,” he said. “In the next meeting of the executive committee we will simplify the process for stopping matches.”

“Following a stadium announcement, the match will be temporarily suspended and the teams will go to the centre of the pitch. If the chanting continues, they will go to the dressing room. At that point, the public security officials will decide if the match is re-started or called off.”

Italian match officials were heavily criticised for “failing to respect anti-racism protocol” after monkey chants were directed at Koulibaly throughout his team’s 1-0 Serie A loss at Inter Milan on Boxing Day.

The pre-match violence and subsequent racist chanting resulted in a ban on Inter fans attending two home games. FIFPro and UEFA criticised the racial abuse aimed at Senegalese defender Koulibaly was “unacceptable” and had “no place in football.”

The Fare network released a statement on the issue, available here.

The three-step process for racism dictates that, in the first instance, the referee should stop the game and request that an announcement be made over the public address system. The second step requires the players to return to the changing rooms while the issue is addressed and the final step, if required, is to abandon the match.

Napoli boss Carlo Ancelotti claims he asked officials on three occasions to suspend the game at the San Siro but no such action was taken. Koulibaly was sent off 10 minutes from the end of the match after he sarcastically applauded a booking, before Lautaro Martinez netted a stoppage-time winner for Inter.

Last week Italy’s Interior Minister Matteo Salvini said he was against the idea of stopping games, saying it would put Italian football on a “slippery slope.”

Koulibaly had tweeted after the incident that he is 'proud of his skin colour.'


The incident was one of eight high-profile incidents of racism in Italian football since September 2018.

In the past week alone two such incidents took place: Lazio fans are currently being investigated by Italian police for anti-Semitic chants targeting Roma, including: "Yellow, red and Jewish" and "This Roma that looks like Africa", while Bologna fans directed monkey chants at the young Juventus striker Moise Kean during a Coppa Italia game.

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