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San Siro closed over 'insulting' chants

AC Milan vice-president Adriano Galliani says strict rules aimed at tackling racism have been taken to an extreme by the Lega Serie A after his club were ordered to play their next home game behind closed doors.

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Milan have been punished after being accused of making “insulting” chants of “territorial discrimination” during Sunday’s 3-2 defeat at Juventus.

It is the second time this season that Milan have been punished for the racially discriminatory behaviour of their fans, and according to reinforced rules from the summer, rather than only having a section of the San Siro closed, as was the case for their recent clash with Sampdoria, the entire stadium will be shut for the visit of Udinese on October 19.

“I think it’s fantastic that stadiums get closed in a country where the stadiums are so old and uncomfortable and practically empty anyway,” Galliani said, according to the Gazzetta dello Sport, after a Lega Serie A assembly in Milan. “Nobody even heard anything. No newspaper journalist or television reporter heard anything. Maybe there was some official who heard something -- maybe in the toilet or at the bar, I don’t know.”

While Galliani supports all efforts to eradicate racial discrimination, he believes the issue must be dealt with differently.

“I understand that racism is a big problem, a problem in the whole world, but territorial discrimination is something else,” he said. “I could do it myself: living in one zone of Milan and agreeing with a few friends to chant against another zone of the city.

“If 50 people agree something like that, they could kill a club by making racist or territorially discriminatory chants. Next time, they may as well say we have lost without playing, and then take points off us too.”

That is a view shared by the president of the Lega Serie A, Maurizio Beretta, who has questioned the severe hand of his own organisation’s disciplinary committee, which sanctioned Milan on Monday.

“The mechanism for defining offences and their punishments the way it is now risks placing the destiny of clubs and the league in the hands of a few irresponsible people,” Beretta said. “In Italy, not only do we have the racial aspect, but also the issue of territorial discrimination. We need to think about how we can prevent football and all the clubs and the many good-minded fans being punished.”

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