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Soccer: Games shouldn't be stopped for 'few' racist jeers

Interior minister says major part of crowd must be involved

07 January, 12:47
Soccer: Games shouldn't be stopped for 'few' racist jeers (ANSA) - Rome, January 7 - Italian Interior Minister Annamaria Cancellieri said Monday that soccer matches should not be stopped if only a handful of fans are involved in racist chants.

The question of when football games should be stopped is a hot issue after AC Milan walked off in a friendly at fourth-tier side Pro Patria last week when their black players were targeted by racist jeers from home supporters.

Some Lazio fans could be heard making monkey chants at Cagliari's Victor Ibarbo during a home win on Saturday but the abuse was drowned out by the rest of the Lazio faithful and the game proceeded.

"If a limited number of people are doing the racist chants, it's necessary to take action against them, without suspending the match," Cancellieri said. "The suspension of a match must be decided with great strictness when there are the conditions to do so, in part to avoid this being used to deliberately have a win awarded to the offended team.

"If, on the other hand, a significant part of the crowd takes part in the chants, then the (interior ministry's) public-order official should suspend the match".

Nevertheless, she praised Milan's Kevin Prince Boateng for leading last week's walk-off.

The Ghanaian midfielder picked up the ball and kicked it towards the supporters who were jeering and then took off his shirt and walked off the pitch.

"This incident serves to draw attention to a phenomenon that unfortunately is widespread and should be considered as such and prompt reflections and more incisive action," Cancellieri said. "It was a good gesture (to walk off) and it has all of my appreciation.

"But it's necessary to have a very serious strategy in place because we cannot leave the destiny of a match in the hands of five or six people who maybe do the racist chants on purpose". Sepp Blatter, the head of international soccer's governing body FIFA, said at the weekend that Milan were wrong to walk from the Pro Patria match.

"The only solution is to be very harsh with the sanctions - and the sanctions must be a deduction of points or something similar," Blatter said.

AC Milan owner Silvio Berlusconi disagrees.

"I'm of the opposite opinion," the ex-premier said on Monday when asked about Blatter's comments.

"I gave my compliments to the players for their courage".

Last week Berlusconi said Milan would also walk out of official games if there is racist chanting, including matches in the European Champions League.