The Milan city derby will "lose all its appeal" if the Lega Serie A does not reverse its decision to close the Curva Nord part of the San Siro stadium, according to Inter Milan captain Javier Zanetti.
The Nerazzurri's hardcore fans have been handed a two-game stadium ban due to the geographically discriminatory chants heard by a small group of their supporters at last weekend's 4-2 defeat to Napoli. That ban coincides with the city's most eagerly-anticipated match of the season -- the Derby della Madonnina.
Staging such a game devoid of the backdrop of a packed San Siro would be nothing short of a scandal, according to the Inter captain, who hopes his club's appeal against the closure will be successful. "Playing a derby without the Curva loses all its appeal," the 40-year-old told RAI television.
"Inter were right to make an appeal, and let's hope there's some good news before the match. This is an important week for us and the derby is always a very important game for everybody, but having the Curva closed makes this derby less captivating."
Singing from the same hymn sheet is AC Milan's general manager Adriano Galliani, who has discussed the issue with his Inter counterpart Marco Fassone to see if they can join forces to overturn the ban.
"I've spoken with Fassone and we'll see if there is any way we can postpone this closure, which is nonsensical," he said at the Christmas party of Milan's youth academy on Tuesday.
"When you go into a ground and see one sector empty, it hurts. I continue to believe that racism is one thing and territorial discrimination is something that we've just invented in Italy.
"It has nothing at all to do with racism and I have no idea why it has been introduced. These games are always intense, regardless of the league standings, and I just hope that both of the Curva can be full."