MILAN Italian football authorities have handed out a 10-match ban to a player from amateur club Matera for racially insulting an opponent, under new tougher penalties introduced to combat racism.
Midfielder Gaetano Iannini was given a red card in the first half of an Italian Cup first round match between Matera and Sudtirol on Sunday and his unprecedented 10-match ban was announced by the league's disciplinary board in a statement on Wednesday.
"Iannini will be suspended for 10 matches after making a racially discriminatory comment against an opponent in the 18th minute of the first half," the league said.
Italy has a serious problem with discrimination in football, which shows no sign of being eradicated despite renewed efforts from the authorities.
Last month Italy's football federation (FIGC) opened an investigation into alleged racist chanting by fans after AC Milan midfielder Kevin Constant fired a ball into the stands and walked off the pitch in protest during a match, just months after a similar incident involving Milan midfielder Kevin-Prince Boateng.
Both FIFA and European soccer's governing body UEFA have vowed to take a tougher stand on discrimination and have recently approved new measures to combat racism.
(Reporting by Agnieszka Flak, editing by Gavin Jones/Mark Meadows)