Banning Fans and Not Fines Will Help to Curb Racism in Italian Football

Italian football fan riot (Google Creative Commons)

Italian football fan riot (Google Creative Commons)

The quality of Serie A football has certainly been on the rise since the match-fixing scandal in 2006.  With many of the top teams getting punished with fines and relegation, a number of the top players opted to transfer to other leagues.  But now that the quality of play is back up to the standards of England, Spain, and Germany, the Serie A governing body need to change something else: the glaring racism problem that exists across Italy’s stadiums.

The latest problem occurred during AC Milan’s visit to AS Roma this past weekend.  A section of the crowd directed their racist abuse at the Milan’s black players throughout the match.  After Roma captain Francesco Totti and Milan captain Massimo Ambrosini pleaded to the referee, play was finally stopped.  Then, following a stadium announcement asking the crowd to stop chanting their racial slurs, play was resumed.

The Italian Football Federation gave officials the power to stop play due to racial abuse after Milan midfielder Kevin-Prince Boateng was subjected to racial abuse in January.   After stopping play, the only other punishment for racial abuse has been fines.  In fact,  Roma was fined 50,000 euros after their latest obstacle.

However, a fine is simply not enough to curb this repulsive problem.  When you fine a club for the fans’ abuse, the fan never sees any of the punishment.  The only way to truly punish the fans is to actually ban them from the next game.  50,000 euros is a big fine, but the money lost from a lack of fans will surpass that amount.  This is the only way to stop racial abuse because it punishes both the fans and the club for what goes on inside the stadium.

While it wasn’t for racial abuse, a top-flight Swedish game between Djurgarden and Mjallby was played in an empty stadium recently.  The original match was stopped when a player was hit by an object thrown by the fans.  Along with the fine of 15,000 Swedish crown that Djurgarden was given, they also lost the revenue from having fans in the stadium.

Suspending fans from the stadium isn’t a perfect solution, but it is one worth trying.  Fining the club has proven absolutely no worth, and if the Italian Football Federation really wants to curb racial abuse, this is the next logical step.

Posted in: Italy

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