UEFA has publicly denounced the in-game handling of racist chants directed at Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly this week during a Serie A match between Napoli and Inter Milan at the San Siro.
Home Inter fans directed repeated racist chants towards Koulibaly, including monkey noises, despite multiple announcements over the stadium loudspeaker imploring the fans to stop. The UEFA report says that three announcements were made, and confirms that protocol was not followed, stating that the game should have been suspended.
“We are very concerned by this unacceptable racist incident and by what appears on the surface to be a failure to respect the widely-recognised three-step anti-racism protocol,” said UEFA in a joint statement with the players’ union FIFPro. “Koulibaly was subject to racist chanting and, despite announcements made by the stadium speaker, the chants did not stop. Moreover, it seems that Napoli’s coaching staff had already informed the referee several times of racist chants.”
As punishment for the chants, Inter was told it must play its next two home matches in a completely empty stadium.
Referee Paolo Mazzoleni eventually sent Koulibaly off for sarcastically applauding a decision, earning him a second yellow card. Koulibaly was given a two-match ban for his actions.
UEFA’s statement was made in the aftermath of Italian Football Federation chief Gabriele Gravina saying the referee followed protocol correctly, and claiming that Napoli pulling its players off the pitch would cause a “negative result” to be handed down. “Mazzoleni applied the rules perfectly,” Gravina told Sky Sports Italia after the game. “If players left the field then it would break the rules, followed by a negative result for their team. Let’s not forget that there are rules, which need to be improved. If not then it would be like the Wild West.”
Napoli manager Carlo Ancelotti claimed after the match that he would pull his players off the field should this happen again, even if it resulted in forfeiture of the match. There are also reports that the Italian Federation is considering suspending Serie A after the actions at the San Siro. There was also pre-match violence which resulted in the the death of an Inter fan as well as a stabbing of four Napoli fans. The federation did announce, however, that Saturday’s fixtures would go on as planned.