MILAN (Reuters) - Serie A was marred by alleged racism at the weekend when Brescia forward Mario Balotelli threatened to walk off the pitch at Verona and the referee stopped play for around four minutes after home fans allegedly made monkey noises.
The delegate at the Verona-Brescia match has reported that “only” 15 people were involved in the alleged racist insults which could mean the home club will escape sanctions, according to a report in Gazzetta dello Sport on Monday.
Gazzetta quoted the delegate’s report as saying that “they were only about 15 (in number) plus some applause for Balotelli started from the rest of the curve.”
According to Serie A’s disciplinary code, sanctions in such cases depend upon how perceptible the chanting is.
Earlier this season, Cagliari escaped punishment after their fans allegedly made monkey noises when Inter Milan forward Romelu Lukaku stepped up to take a penalty.
Serie A’s disciplinary tribunal is expected to rule on the case on Tuesday. Verona won the match 2-1.
Verona coach Ivan Juric said he did not hear anything and was backed up by club president Maurizio Setti.
“I confirm that we didn’t perceive anything,” said Setti.
However, a video taken from the stands and published on Twitter suggested that the monkey noises were loud.
Brescia said Verona’s comments were “no less serious” than the abuse itself.
“The statements of senior managerial representatives of the Verona club to television and media organisations appeared an attempt to deny or minimise the gravity of the incident,” it said.
The club did not thank the coach for his contribution or give any details.
Brescia are the fifth team to part company with their coach this season following Sampdoria, Genoa, AC Milan and Udinese.
Pioli complained that Milan had played their previous match on Thursday while Lazio were previously in action on Wednesday.
“I don’t want to criticise anyone but we had one day less to rest than Lazio and of course, that makes a difference,” he said. “Whoever makes the calendar should show more respect for Milan.”
Milan have a full week to prepare for their next game, away to leaders Juventus, while the Turin side travel to Russia to face Lokomotiv Moscow in a Champions League match on Wednesday.
Struggling Torino produced one of their best performances of the season in an honourable 1-0 derby defeat to Juventus, prompting coach Walter Mazzarri to tell his players that they must imagine they are facing their more glamorous neighbours every week.
The Bulls, who finished seventh last season, have lost six of their first 11 matches in their worst start to a season since they were relegated in 2008-09.
“I told the lads that I am proud of what they did tonight but from now on they must play every match with the same determination and hunger,” he said.
“The real step up in quality now must be seeing black and white shirts on every opponent they face. If they keep that attitude, I am sure they will start raking in the points.”
Writing by Brian Homewood, editing by Pritha Sarkar