Racism rears ugly head at Milan again

Posted by Sumeet Paul

As racist chants were heard at San Siro on Sunday, Milan were consigned to becoming embroiled in the latest controversy surrounding a long-standing stain on Italian football.

Mario Balotelli was seen turning towards the offending away supporters, and raised a finger to his lips motioning for them to fall silent. Moments later, an announcement over the stadium's public address warned such behaviour would not be tolerated and that the match was at risk of being stopped.

-Prandelli backs Balotelli's response to racism
-Blatter denounces chants

Shortly after the interval, referee Gianluca Rocchi was forced into action. Officials, players and coaches all engaged in conversation as to whether the game would be suspended, and while the game resumed, the event has been met with widespread condemnation across the world.

The Rossoneri were involved in an incident earlier this season, with Kevin-Prince Boateng taking matters into his own hands during a "friendly" against Pro Patria back in January.

His actions were acknowledged and his decision respected, but it has failed to have the immediate effect that some would have envisaged.

Both the FIGC and Serie A clubs are all actively involved in anti-racism initiatives seeking to eradicate it from the game. However, the biggest criticism is over the financial punishment handed out by the Italian Football Federation, which is not quite active enough in rooting out the problem.

While the clubs concerned will predictably receive trivial fines -- in this case Roma were fined €50,000 -- the financial reprimands merely target the club who aren't exactly troubled in paying the fee, while avoiding the real task of seeking out and removing the actual offenders.

Arguments will, of course, be made that the 'Ultras' are almost too important to the football clubs for them to be removed, while the state of the stadia in Italy has again been placed under the spotlight.

While some pin it down to merely being an issue with football fans, it doesn't address the reality of it being a societal and political issue that could take years to fully stamp out.

FIFA president Sepp Blatter has led the chorus of criticism over the FIGC's punishment, and is perhaps finally set to be the individual who takes actual action as opposed to merely commenting on how bad these situations are and that it needs to stop.

"I think lessons have not been learned. What is surprising, and is not understandable for me, is that the disciplinary committee of the Italian Football Federation has taken a decision, not even 24 hours after the event, by just imposing a fine.

"They have not made any investigation of what happened, and just to give a pecuniary sanction is not valid, that is not acceptable.

“You will always find money. What is €50,000 for such an incident? I’m not happy, and I will call the Italian Federation. That’s not a way to deal with such matters,” he told FIFA.com.

Balotelli in particular has been targeted throughout the season, even games where Milan are not involved. However, Italy coach Cesare Prandelli praised the 22-year-old for his growing maturity as he continues to keep his temperament under control in unsavoury atmospheres such as Sunday's.

The message is clear -- more needs to be done and paltry fines will not suffice. What it needs now is for a figure of Blatter's standing to come up with the resolutions rather than the mere observations.

Financial sanctions the way forward? Agree with Prandelli regarding Balotelli’s impressive new-found control over his temperament?

For all the latest Milan and Serie A news, you can follow me on Twitter @italiafooty

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