Ultras want matches without fans
Ultra fans of Inter Milan have called on their counterparts throughout Italy to unite in breaking what they claim to be "absurd" rules and enforce a weekend of Serie A action behind closed doors.
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The Curva Nord group has called for solidarity with their AC Milan Curva Sud counterparts by challenging new legislation introduced during the summer which leads to stadium closures -- partial or full -- for any act of racially discriminatory behaviour by fans.
The regulations also punish territorial discrimination, which has led to Milan’s game against Udinese on October 19 being played without spectators at the San Siro after they were already forced to stage their home fixture with Sampdoria with the Curva Sud closed.
"We are ready and we hope that all fans make discriminatory chants so that we end up playing a Sunday without any fans at all," said an appeal published on the Curva Nord’s website. "We are proposing initiatives coordinated with other fans, ultras, with the fans of our rivals from our city, with our partner fans and with our historic rivals, or anybody else who realises how absurd the attempt is to whitewash our minds with an alien respectability."
Milan’s vice-president Adriano Galliani highlighted a flaw in the rules his club have fallen victim to when he commented on the sanction received from the Lega Serie A on Monday.
"I could do it myself: living in one zone of Milan and agreeing with a few friends to chant against another zone of the city," he said. "If 50 people agree to something like that, they could kill a club by making racist or territorially discriminatory chants.
"I understand that racism is a big problem, a problem in the whole world, but territorial discrimination is something else."
Indeed, should the appeal of the Inter fans be adhered to, even only in a humorous, ironic manner, such as the way Napoli fans discriminated against themselves at the weekend by wishing cholera on the city of Naples -- a frequent discriminatory chant made by opposition fans -- the way the rules are currently set out, they will all receive an automatic partial stadium closure.
The punishment for a second incident is a full stadium closure, like in the case of Milan, while further incidents could lead to automatic defeats and points’ deductions.
However, there is little the Lega Serie A can do other than enforce rules which the president of the Italian FA (FIGC) Giancarlo Abete says are the same throughout Europe.
"It is not an autonomous decision by our federation, but a system which has been received on an international level," Abete said.
"The rules in Italy reflect a regulation forwarded by UEFA, which has also been discussed at UEFA and FIFA congresses. UEFA’s approach tends to uphold human dignity to an extent that the decisions taken for the Lazio-Legia Warsaw game (Lazio forced to play a game behind closed doors) are linked to chants which had no logical discrimination as such."
The punishments are meant to prompt reflection, not self-denial, according to the president of the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI), Giovanni Malago, who says the reaction of the Inter fans is the opposite of what the rules were intended to achieve.
"I can only see one solution and that is that the part of the stadium concerned must do something against those who are penalising their own club," he said. "I cannot see any alternative."