Martedì, 25 Settembre 2018
ROME

Soccer: Jail terms for racist Italian fans

English
© ANSA

(By Paul Virgo)
Rome, June 5 - An Italian court on Wednesday handed
prison sentences of 40 days to two months to six soccer fans who
racially abused several black AC Milan players in a friendly
match in January.
The court in the northern town of Busto Arsizio, where the
incident took place, found the fans of fourth-tier side Pro
Patria guilty of insulting chants "aggravated by racist
motives".
The sentence was less severe than the terms requested by
the prosecutor, who wanted five of the fans given six months in
jail and one four months because he helped authorities.
The incident hit international headlines as Milan's
Ghanaian midfielder Kevin-Prince Boateng led his side in walking
off the field in protest and the match was abandoned.
The Ghanaian was widely praised for standing up to the
bigots and was subsequently invited to speak at a forum
organized in Geneva by United Nations High Commissioner for
Human Rights Navi Pillay.
Any hopes that the incident would turn out to be a
watershed for Italian football, which has been engaged in a long
battle against racism in the stands, were quickly dashed.
Last month a Serie A match between AC Milan and AS Roma was
briefly suspended after some Roma fans directed racist
chants at Boateng and Milan's Italy forward Mario Balotelli.
There were a number of other incidents of racism at the end
of last season.
After fining clubs for racism by fans proved ineffective,
this week the Italian Soccer Federation (FIGC) approved stiffer
penalties for racism following new rules from European
football's governing body UEFA.
Clubs whose fans are guilty of racist abuse will now have
sections of their home ground closed for a subsequent game.
If the abuse is repeated, the club will have to play a home
game behind closed doors.
If it still continues the authorities will be able to give
more stadium bans, award victory in a game to the opposition,
deduct points in the league standings and even exclude a team
from the championship.
Balotelli has frequently been a victim of racism abuse and
has threatened to walk off the field the next time it happens,
although UEFA President Michel Platini and the head of Italy's
referees have said it is not up to the individual player to
decide when to take action.
Racism has been a problem in Italian soccer at least since
the 1980s, when Milan's Dutch star Ruud Gullit spoke out against
it.
Former Messina defender Marco Zoro of the Ivory Coast
threatened to halt a Serie A game in November 2005 after
suffering racial abuse from visiting Inter supporters.
A decade earlier, Dutchman Aron Winter, a native of
Suriname, was subject to attacks at Lazio involving cries of
"Niggers and Jews Out".
Anti-Semitism has also been a recurring problem in the top
flight.
In 1989 Israel striker Ronnie Rosenthal was unable to play
even one game for Udinese because of massive pressure from
neo-Fascist circles.
Supporters of Lazio, who include a neo-Fascist hard core,
and AS Roma were linked to a brutal assault on Tottenham
supporters, a London club with a Jewish heritage, in a Rome pub
in November.
The Busto Arsizio court, meanwhile, fined Milan's Sulley
Muntari, another Ghanaian midfielder, 500 euros for failing to
turn up to give evidence at the trial.

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