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08th Jan 2019

Napoli pledge to walk off field in instances of racial abuse

Napoli have confirmed that they are willing to walk off the pitch in instances of racial abuse directed at their players against the FIGC's wishes

Reuben Pinder

The Italian FA and government have said play should go on

Napoli have confirmed that they are willing to walk off the pitch in any instances of racist abuse targeted at their players, despite the Italian government and the FIGC insisting that play should go on.

FIFPro complained that play was not halted during Napoli’s game against Inter Milan at the San Siro, when on three separate occasions the referee asked for a warning to be read out for racist abuse aimed at Kalidou Koulibaly.

In a summit on Monday between Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini, the Federation and representatives of clubs and ultras, it was reiterated that Serie A referees don’t have the power to stop games due to racist abuse.

In that summit, Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini called for cells to be installed at Serie A stadiums for misbehaving fans.

Salvini said: “The issue of suspension in the event of chants during matches is very slippery. We risk putting the fate of many in the hands of a few.

“I prefer to take preventative measures and not leave the power of blackmail to a fringe minority.

“It’s also difficult to find objective criteria for suspension. Personally, I agreed with the decision not to suspend Inter vs Napoli as there would’ve been so many problems outside the stadium.”

Salvini, who represents far-right party Lega Nord, said it was important to “differentiate between real racism and mere football rivalry.”

Napoli told news publication Ansa they were ‘perplexed’ by Salvini’s stance on the issue.

Current FIGC Prosecutor Giuseppe Pecoraro told Il Mattino there is no clarity in the current rules.

“If the inspectors of the FIGC Prosecutors are given the task of stopping play in case of racist abuse, they will take that task. We are ready to do it from the next Serie A round.

“The most important thing is that someone makes the decisions, because football cannot be held hostage by a few hundred people. (FIGC President Gabriele) Gravina said that referees cannot be expected to stop play. That’s fine, so now the proposal to give the decision to the FIGC will be discussed and, if ratified, put into action.

“Those who are on the sidelines can have a better perception of what is coming from the stands than those on the pitch. What matters now is to have clear rules and respect them.

“Until now, the FIGC observer’s job was only to signal to the referee the existence of racist abuse, but now he can take action himself.

“The other problem is that for example in England they can take a fan out of his seat and kick him out for racist abuse. In Italy, we can try to keep the delinquents away from the game during the week, but don’t have the power to remove anyone on the day.”