FIFA chief urges action after racist abuse halts Serie A game


Milan (AFP) – FIFA president Gianni Infantino said Sunday the problem of racism in Italian football has “not improved” after a Serie A match between Atalanta and Fiorentina was halted for several minutes because of racist abuse of Brazilian Dalbert.

Fiorentina defender Dalbert, 26, asked the referee to halt play after half an hour at the Stadio Ennio Tardini until a warning statement was read out by the stadium speaker to jeers and whistles from the Atalanta fans.

Play resumed after three minutes with visitors Fiorentina leading 1-0 after a goal from Federico Chiesa.

“In Italy the situation has not improved and this is serious,” Infantino, in Italy ahead of the FIFA Best Awards on Monday, told the Italian Rai2 channel.

“Racism is fought through education, condemning it, talking about it, we cannot accept racism in society and in football.

“We have to identify those responsible and throw them out of the stadiums, we need clear sentences, as in England, we must not be afraid to condemn the racists, we must fight them to the end.”

Since the beginning of the season, Inter Milan’s Belgian striker Romelu Lukaku and AC Milan’s Ivorian midfielder Franck Kessie have been targeted by monkey cries during league games without any sanction being taken.

Last season, Blaise Matuidi, Kalidou Koulibaly and Moise Kean were also victims of the problem which has been recurring for years in Italy.

– Llorente scores double –

On the pitch, Atalanta rescued a 2-2 draw with two late goals to avoid a second consecutive defeat after their 4-0 Champions League thrashing at Dinamo Zagreb in midweek.

Franck Ribery scored his first Serie A goal by netting Fiorentina’s second.

Elsewhere, Fernando Llorente scored a brace as Napoli eased past Lecce 4-1 to keep in touch with leaders Inter Milan and second-placed Juventus, while Edin Dzeko struck a stoppage-time winner for Roma.

Spaniard Llorente, who scored in Napoli’s midweek 2-0 win over Champions League holders Liverpool, grabbed the opener on 28 minutes at the San Paolo Stadium. He added a late fourth for Napoli eight minutes from time.

“It was a game that could have been a trap after the high of Liverpool, but the many changes helped us,” said Napoli coach Carlo Ancelotti. 

Arkadiusz Milik started up front alongside Llorente, and the Polish striker’s assist contributed to the Spaniard’s opener.

Lorenzo Insigne scored Napoli’s second goal from the spot five minutes before the break, at the second attempt after Lecce’s goalkeeper left his line prematurely before he saved the first.

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