“It was appalling to see yet another incident of racism in Italy following the abuse aimed at Napoli’s Senegalese defender Kalidou Koulibaly at the Inter Milan vs Napoli Serie A game last night, before which a supporter also tragically lost his life, and following which a two match ban on fans has been imposed by the Italian FA.
“The incident last night follows a pattern in which players are abused, they report it to the referee, the referee fails to take effective action and the player is eventually sent off. This pattern is observed across Europe, it highlights the repeated failure to protect minority players and to tackle what is a systemic issue in many countries.
“International regulations say that a referee can stop the match and have warnings issued to the crowd. On the third stoppage he has the right to abandon the match if the abuse does not stop. These regulations were introduced by UEFA (in 2013) and FIFA (in 2017). National football associations are asked to adopt them, but in many countries the regulations are not in place. FAs do not care to focus on them, referees do not know about them or do not feel brave enough to enforce. That clearly is the case in Italy.
“We welcome Carlo Ancelotti’s comments pledging to take his team off the field of play if this type of abuse happens again. Under Ancelotti’s leadership the position of Napoli on racism and discriminatory abuse is clear, we note that the club previously threatened to take their players off the pitch before a match against Atlanta on the 3rd December.
“Kalidou Koulibaly has consistently been the target of an alarming level of racist abuse while playing against clubs across Italy, including Atlanta, Juventus, Lazio and now Inter Milan. Too often, the punishments handed out by Italian football authorities are weak and ineffective.
“Dealing with racism must be a priority for the new regime at FIGC, the Italian FA, an FA that in the past has had a bad record of dealing with racism, where a former President Carlo Tavecchi served a six month UEFA ban for racist remarks.
“We note the sanction applied to Inter, two matches behind closed doors is a clear signal, but it is not enough, so much more still remains to be done to stop the rot at the heart of Italian football.”