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AC Milan players Mario Balotelli, left, and Kevin Prince Boateng with other teammates and Roma players wait for racist chants to stop. Antonio Calanni / AP Photo
AC Milan players Mario Balotelli, left, and Kevin Prince Boateng with other teammates and Roma players wait for racist chants to stop. Antonio Calanni / AP Photo

Serie A: Tough call for referees to raise card on racism

Referees have a dilemma. Once a match is abandoned, a precedent set, the incorrigible misfits who inhabit plenty of Serie A arenas will want to test the boundaries again.

So this is how the story ends? A series of announcements via loudspeaker, threatening the possibility of abandoning the match? The referee then picks up the ball, breaks the play. There is a brief respite in the racist chanting. The game resumes. The racist chanting starts again, less concentrated but audible. The fixture continues until the final whistle.

Thus it was for AC Milan and Roma on Sunday, a hideous event because of the grunting of a minority of Roma followers aimed mainly at Milan's Mario Balotelli and Kevin-Prince Boateng.

That is the same Boateng who walked off the pitch, accompanied by his teammates, when he repeatedly heard monkey chants during a friendly at Pro Patria shortly after new year.

Boateng's action then was hailed as a breakthrough, a reminder to the authorities that matches should and could be stopped if spectators behaved in a racist way.

Referee Gianluca Rocchi deemed the abuse at San Siro insufficient to go that far. Referees have a dilemma. Once a match is abandoned, a precedent set, the incorrigible misfits who inhabit plenty of Serie A arenas will want to test the boundaries again.

Roma have been fined 50,000 (Dh238,837), the same tariff imposed on Inter Milan after Balotelli was racially abused at February's Milan derby, a month before Uefa fined Inter for chanting directed at Tottenham Hotspur's Emmanuel Adebayor. The list goes on. Fines are an anaemic response to the problem.

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