FIGC lay out anti-racism plans

The Italian football association has urged players not to walk off the pitch if they are subjected to racist abuse.

Last Updated: 10/01/13 at 08:18 Post Comment

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The Italian football association (FIGC) has told players not to follow the lead of Kevin-Prince Boateng and walk off the pitch if they are subjected to racist abuse.

The FIGC reaffirmed its policy for a pitchside 'director' to decide whether to suspend matches in such circumstances - a move that echoes FIFA president Sepp Blatter's calls earlier this week.

AC Milan midfielder Boateng left the pitch, followed by his team-mates, after he was subjected to racist taunts during a friendly against lower-league Pro Patria last week.

The Ghana international's action have since earned widespread praise while the FIGC have vowed to remove racism from stands across the country.

Part of that move has seen the governing body meet the Osservatorio - the organisation tasked with security and safety at stadia in Italy - to discuss the procedure surrounding racist incidents.

Those discussions were detailed in simultaneous statements from both organisations - which included calling for players to remain on the pitch - but also revealed matches could be suspended to warn fans about their behaviour.

The Osservatorio statement detailed the exact process, saying: "In the event of racism, intolerance or anti-Semitism, the referee and players will report through the fourth official to a director for public safety, someone solely responsible for making the decision to end a game.

"A report will be filed to the Federal Prosecutor's office. In the event of serious racism or intolerance the game can be suspended temporarily to broadcast warning messages through PA systems in the stadia."

FIGC general manager Antonello Valentini, who met with Osservatorio officials this week, welcomed the statement.

"Following on from yesterday's meeting, my continued presence here today is an opportunity to make sure no-one thinks we are underestimating the problem," he said.

"The FIGC has always paid maximum attention to the issue, in line with state and sporting laws.

"The refinements to certain procedures that the Osservatorio have outlined today are based on yesterday's talks and are aimed at making stadia and sport venues more civilised places.

"These kind of events must not be allowed to continue. The plan is to ban racists from the stadia and we are grateful to the Ministry of the Interior and the Osservatorio for what they are doing about it and what they will continue to do."

Last week FIFA boss Blatter called for harsher sanctions to deal with racism, but warned that players should not walk off the pitch.

Blatter had appeared to suggest that players could use racism as an excuse to walk off during a game if they were losing.

Speaking at a conference in the Middle East, Blatter told United Arab Emirates newspaper The National: "Walk off? No. I don't think that is the solution.

"I don't think you can run away, because eventually you can run away if you lose a match.

"This issue is a very touchy subject, but I repeat there is zero tolerance of racism in the stadium; we have to go against that.

"The only solution is to be very harsh with the sanctions - and the sanctions must be a deduction of points or something similar."

Pro Patria have subsequently been ordered to play their next match behind closed doors.

Italian police have also confirmed six people are under investigation for their role in the incident, including Riccardo Grittini, 21, who is a representative of Italian political party Lega Nord.


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