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Fiorentina ask fans to avoid racist chants ahead of Vlahovic return

Milan (AFP) – Fiorentina on Tuesday asked their supporters to avoid racist chants as they prepare for the first leg of their Italian Cup semi-final against Juventus and old boy Dusan Vlahovic.

Wednesday’s match will be the first time Serbia forward Vlahovic returns to Florence since leaving Fiorentina for fierce rivals Juve towards the end of the January transfer window.

In a statement, which didn’t name Vlahovic, Fiorentina invited “fans to support the team with their passion, hearts and extraordinary sense of humour, showing their love for these colours for the whole 90 minutes while avoiding racist and discriminatory chants which have nothing to do with our culture or history”.

Vlahovic was targeted by Atalanta fans with racist chants calling him a “gypsy” in September, insults which left the 22-year-old, then still a Fiorentina player, on the verge of tears during his post-match interview having just scored twice in a 2-1 win.

That incident came a month before a small group of Fiorentina supporters called Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly a ‘monkey’ and also racially abused Victor Osimhen during a 2-1 home defeat to the current Serie A leaders.

Vlahovic’s departure to Juve, historically the team most despised by Fiorentina supporters, came after months of rows over a contract extension at the Viola which never materialised.

Fiorentina owner Rocco Commisso said publicly that Vlahovic had flat-out refused to sign a new deal which would have made the forward the club’s highest ever paid player.

He left for Juve in a deal worth an initial 70 million euros ($80.2 million) after becoming one of Europe’s hottest young talents, and since moving to Turin he has scored four times in six matches in all competitions.

He leads the Serie A scoring charts with 20 goals in 25 appearances after netting twice at Empoli on Saturday as Juve consolidated a spot in the Champions League places and moved to within seven points of pacesetters Napoli and AC Milan.

“Tomorrow’s match should be a night of sport,” Juve coach Massimiliano Allegri told reporters on Tuesday.

“Vlahovic will always be grateful to the city of Florence, Florentines and the club which raised him and enabled him to get to a level to play for Juventus.”

Allegri added that one of Vlahovic, Alvaro Morata and Moise Kean would not start at the Stadio Artemio Franchi, although his new signing is expected to play.

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