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Mar 12, 2014

Agnelli: Italian football must unite

Juventus president Andrea Agnelli says the whole of Italian football must unite in fighting discrimination after the latest incidents which overshadowed the game.

An 18-year-old player of Atalanta's youth team was banned for 10 matches for racially abusing an opponent of Verona in a recent youth game, while defamatory chants from the Juventus fans were heard from the Curva Sud during their 1-0 win over Fiorentina on Sunday and a Fiorentina fan was identified for ridiculing the Bianconeri supporters who died in the Heysel tragedy.

"It's a very important issue for me, but each time I see certain things, it surprises me for two reasons first because it means certain messages are not getting across, and then because incidents which are so minor are being amplified by the media," Agnelli said in Florence, in quotes reported by Eurosport. "Despite the advanced technology we have, we're still unable to identify who these 30/40 trouble-causers are.

"It's right that we are all united in fighting a problem -- the CONI (Italian Olympic Committee), FIGC (Italian FA), clubs, players and even the press. The thing is, the average age of the fan is around 25 and they don't even know what Heysel was."

On Monday, the wife of former Juventus legend Gaetano Scirea said she would request her husband's name be removed from the Curva Sud should the behaviour of the fans there not improve.

"That reaction is legitimate," added Agnelli. "Her husband's name is associated with the part of the stadium where the most passionate fans are."

Meanwhile, Atalanta youngster Alberto Grassi has been banned for ten matches for insulting an opponent with a racially discriminatory term. "It was a reply to a provocation, but it was never meant in a racist way," said Atalanta's youth team coordinator Mino Favini. "He even says the same thing to his own teammate Bangal, but it's only meant in jest and no offence is intended."

Atalanta will not contest the ruling, however, accepting the FIGC's decision after anti-racism rules were enforced to the full.

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