AS Roma have been fined £42,000 for racist behaviour by fans during Sunday’s Serie A match at Milan, which had to be interrupted by the referee early in the second half.
Serie A’s sporting tribunal said Roma supporters had “continually directed chants expressing racial discrimination to three of the players of the opposing team”. The match was stopped for two minutes and a warning was issued over the public address system at San Siro.
The tribunal did not say which players the abuse had been aimed at, but Milan’s coach, Massimiliano Allegri, said the former Manchester City striker Mario Balotelli was one of them.
Milan selected five black players in their starting line-up, though Sulley Muntari was sent off before half-time for physically restraining referee Gianlucca Rocchi from showing Balotelli a yellow card for a foul.
Roma issued a statement condemning the behaviour of the supporters, saying: “This type of behaviour on the part of any supporters, including our own, is totally unacceptable.
“We are committed to confront the matter with determination to eliminate the problem from sport and promote respect to everyone.”
But Roma’s general director, Franco Baldini, questioned whether the chants were racist, according to the Gazzetta dello Sport.
“The boos were directed at Balotelli because he’s a feared player,” he said. “It’s difficult to figure out where the border is between racial discrimination or simple boos.” Milan’s general manager, Adriano Galliani, said the referee had not helped the situation. “Muntari didn’t understand the booking for Balotelli and that’s where it all started. I don’t want to talk about referees.”
Fifa’s president, Sepp Blatter, said he was ashamed at the incident. “Appalled to read about racist abuse in Serie A last night,” Blatter tweeted yesterday. “Tackling this issue is complex, but we’re committed to action, not just words.”
Blatter added that the world governing body’s taskforce against racism and discrimination was “serious about devising a unified approach for Fifa’s 209 members”.