Sepp Blatter 'appalled' by chants

May 14, 2013
By news services

FIFA President Sepp Blatter says he will be protesting to Italian football authorities over a decision to only fine Roma 50,000 euros ($64,900) after their fans racially abused AC Milan players.

Roma was fined on Monday by the Lega Calcio after a section of supporters racially abused AC Milan players during Sunday night's Serie A game at San Siro.

Sunday's game was stopped for 97 seconds during the second half when visiting Roma supporters would not stop chanting at Milan players Mario Balotelli and Kevin-Prince Boateng.

Blatter is unhappy that the latest case was so quickly wrapped up by Italian football officials, while branding "small fines for racist abuse unacceptable.

"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," Blatter said Tuesday on FIFA's website. "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 euros 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.

"Appalled to read about racist abuse in Serie A last night," Blatter tweeted Monday. "Tackling this issue is complex, but we're committed to action, not just words."

Roma said in a statement Monday that it "condemns any form of racial abuse."

"This type of behavior from any football supporters, including ours, is completely unacceptable. We are committed to facing this issue head-on to rid our sport of this problem and promote respect for all," the club said.

Blatter added that FIFA's taskforce against racism and discrimination is "serious about devising a unified approach for FIFA's 209 members."

Referee Gianluca Rocchi made the decision to suspend the match briefly after warnings issued over the stadium speaker system went unheeded. Roma captain Francesco Totti had also attempted to calm the fans to no avail.

Balotelli was born in Italy to Ghanian immigrants and is the star forward of Italy's national squad. Boateng was born in Germany to a German mother and a Ghanian father and plays for Ghana's national team.

The match at Milan's San Siro stadium ended 0-0.

Roma general director Franco Baldini contested whether the chants were racist.

"The boos were directed at Balotelli because he's a feared player," Baldini said, according to the Gazzetta dello Sport.

"The nature of the chants was not clear. And I clearly heard the Milan fans chanting 'romano bastardo' -- 'roman bastard' -- which is just as discriminatory. It's difficult to figure out where the border is between racial discrimination or simple boos."

This was the first time a Serie A match was suspended due to racism.

In January, Boateng famously walked off the field with his teammates after enduring racist abuse during a friendly against a fourth-tier Italian club.

"The perception is still that in certain areas of the stadium you can do anything," Italian players' association president Damiano Tommasi said. "It's important to make those people feel more and more in the minority.

"The goal is to make people who behave poorly leave the stadium, although that's not simple for reasons of public safety," Tommasi added.

"It's always a very fine line between penalizing the majority of people who go to the stadium to enjoy the show and punishing the minority who ruin it. It's not simple but it seems to me that yesterday everyone was in agreement with Rocchi's decision."

Information from The Associated Press and Press Association was used in this report.