November 29, 2019 / 5:54 PM / 10 days ago

Italian clubs recognise "serious problem" with racism

MILAN (Reuters) - Italy’s 20 Serie A clubs say they have recognised that there is a serious problem with racism in the country’s football and not enough has been done to tackle it.

“Images of players being racially abused in Italian football have been viewed and discussed all around the world this season and that shames us all,” said the clubs in an open letter published on Friday.

“No individual should ever be subjected to racist abuse – inside or outside of football – and we can no longer stay silent on this issue or wait for it to magically disappear.”

“We have to publicly recognise that we have a serious problem with racism,” it added. “It’s a problem that we have not done enough to combat over the years.”

In the most high-profile incidents this season, Inter Milan forward Romelu Lukaku and Brescia striker Mario Balotelli were both subject to racist abuse from spectators during matches at Cagliari and Verona respectively.

No action was taken against Cagliari while Verona were ordered to partially close their stadium for one match. The problem has existed for years and Balotelli has suffered racist abuse throughout his career in Italy.

In the letter, the clubs said that Serie A would deliver “a comprehensive and robust Serie A anti-racism policy, stricter new laws and regulations and a plan for educating those within the game about the scourge of racism.”

Italian football’s disciplinary code has been widely criticised as it only allows sanctions if the racist abuse is considered widely perceptible.

Serie A’s chief executive Luigi De Siervo added that “any action, any effort would be nothing without the involvement, support, accountability of each and every stakeholder.”

Writing by Brian Homewood; Editing by Christian Radnedge

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