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Jan 10, 2013

Italian FA takes stand on racism

The Italian football association [FIGC] has continued its crackdown on racist abuse by handing a pitchside 'director' the ability to suspend a match in the event of unruly crowd behaviour, but has told players not to follow the lead of Kevin-Prince Boateng and walk off the pitch.

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Boateng's decision to walk off after being subjected to racist taunts from spectators during AC Milan's friendly with Pro Patria last week spurred the FIGC into action, although the governing body refused to back his actions.

Instead, they have encouraged a neutral director on the sidelines to decide whether a match should be abandoned after communicating with officials, team staff and players.

"In the event of racism, intolerance or anti-Semitism, the referee and players will report through the fourth official to a director for public safety, someone solely responsible for making the decision to end a game," an FIGC report said. "A report will be filed to the Federal Prosecutor's office.

"In the event of serious racism or intolerance the game can be suspended temporarily to broadcast warning messages through PA systems in the stadia."

FIGC general manager Antonello Valentini, who met with senior figures from Osservatorio - the organisation in charge of security and safety at stadia in Italy - welcomed the statement, insisting Italian football is working towards eradicating antisocial behaviour.

"Following on from yesterday's meeting, my continued presence here today is an opportunity to make sure no-one thinks we are underestimating the problem," he said. "The FIGC has always paid maximum attention to the issue, in line with state and sporting laws.

"The refinements to certain procedures that the Osservatorio have outlined today are based on yesterday's talks and are aimed at making stadia and sport venues more civilised places. These kind of events must not be allowed to continue.

"The plan is to ban racists from the stadia and we are grateful to the Ministry of the Interior and the Osservatorio for what they are doing about it and what they will continue to do."

Information from the Press Association was used in this report.