Platini slams Italian football racism

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The Independent Online

Uefa wants matches to be halted if fans make racist chants, the European governing body's president Michel Platini said today.

Juventus were ordered to play a game behind closed doors on Monday after fans racially abused Inter Milan striker Mario Balotelli in Saturday's 1-1 Serie A draw.

"We will call for play to be stopped for 10 minutes when these things happen and announcements to be made in the stadium," Platini told a news conference. "If it continues the match will be stopped. Courage is needed when there is racism in the stands. That's Uefa's mission."

Racist abuse is not uncommon in Italian soccer and small fines are usually handed out. However, the seriousness of Saturday's incidents prompted the authorities to come down heavily on Juve.

"It is a difficult moment for the Italian soccer federation. It has taken its responsibility," added former Juve player Platini.

Italian federation president Giancarlo Abete told reporters that rules would be changed to allow games to be stopped for racist chanting.

"The Italian system already gives the authorities the power to suspend the game in the case of banners that incite racial discrimination," he said.

"We'll reinforce this, naturally while staying attentive and finding a balance for the security requirements of the public."

The 18-year-old Balotelli scored Inter's opener in the top-of-the-table clash and was subjected to chants of "a black Italian does not exist" from sections of the crowd in Turin.

Balotelli, an Italy under-21 international, was born in Palermo but is of Ghanaian descent.

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