Footballers are now directed to gather in the middle of the pitch in case of racist cries. And in case of repeated incident of the same kind, they will have to return to the dressing room. 

The Italian Football Federation (FIGC) announced a simplification and tightening of the procedure implemented in case of racist cries in the stadiums, after the complications caused by recent incidents. From now on, in the event of such cries or racist behaviour reported by the federal delegates or law enforcement officials, the match will be immediately stopped temporarily and the players must gather in the middle of the field. An announcement will then be made by the stadium announcer. Upon a second warning, players will return to the changing rooms and a security official will then decide whether to call off the game.

Real football can triumph

Previously, the suspension of the match could intervene only after three announcements made by the speaker. The president of the Italian federation Gabriele Gravina recalled that

“The hypothesis of a suspension created a prejudice of image for the Italian football and for the true supporters.”

“Responsibilities must be individual and not collective, but something must be done so that real football can triumph, and we have to go beyond these incidents with a healthy supporter,” Gravina said in a statement from the FIGC.

New rules are ‘wise’

Raffaele Cantone, the chief of Italy’s anti-corruption agency, said the new rules were ‘wise’.

“What happened to Koulibaly was scandalous. I’m convinced that if the referee calls players to the centre of the pitch, maybe [the racism] will stop. But you also need a burst of pride from the other spectators to show they have nothing to do with these idiots.”

Racism and hooliganism have long infected Italian football. In recent years the Italy international Mario Balotelli has been a persistent target of abuse. Italian football hooligans, knowns as ultras, tend to be well-organised, extremely violent and racist. Last year Daniele De Santis, a notorious ultra, was jailed for 16 years for the murder of a Napoli fan, Ciro Esposito, before the 2014 Italian Cup final game against Fiorentina.

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The most recent: Kalidou Koulibaly

Image Credit: AP

On December 26, the French-Senegalese defender of Naples, Kalidou Koulibaly, was targeted by monkey chants several times during a match played in Milan against Inter, especially at the time of his expulsion for a second yellow card.
After the match, however, Ancelotti was focused on the treatment his star defender received from the San Siro crowd.

“There was a strange atmosphere, as we asked three times for play to be suspended, they had announcements with the speaker three times,” the Napoli manager said.

“Koulibaly was certainly irritable. Usually, he is very calm and professional, but he was subjected to monkey noises throughout the game,” Ancelotti added.

“We asked three times for some action to be taken, but the match continued. We keep being told play can be halted, but when? After four or five announcements?”

A recurring phenomenon in Italian football, the cries of monkey that targeted Koulibaly at the San Siro stadium rarely give rise to other punishments than fines or stadium closures or suspended tribunes. But this time, Inter had been punished more harshly to stop these types of unwanted incidents inside the stadium.

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