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Racist chants prompt brief suspension of Serie A soccer game

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PARMA, Italy (AP) Racist chants prompted a brief suspension during an Italian league soccer match between Atalanta and Fiorentina on Sunday.

The referee ordered a warning to be read over the stadium’s loudspeaker after the chants were apparently made by Atalanta fans toward Fiorentina fullback Dalbert Henrique, a Brazilian player who is black.

Toward the half-hour mark, Dalbert stopped and glared at the direction where the chants appeared to come from, and he then spoke to the referee.

The address over the loudspeaker, warning that the match would not resume until the chants stopped, was met with whistles from the crowd.

Once the crowd calmed down, the match resumed after a break of several minutes.

It’s the latest incident in a spate of racism in Serie A.

Inter Milan’s Romelu Lukaku and AC Milan’s Franck Kessie have also been targeted this season but no club has been punished by the league judge.

FIFA president Gianni Infantino addressed the incident in Parma as a guest on Italian state TV RAI.

“Racism is combatted with education, condemnation and discussion,” Infantino said. “You can’t have racism in society or in football. In Italy the situation has not improved and this is really serious. You need to identify those responsible and throw them out of the stadiums. You need, as in England, the certainty of the penalty. You can’t be afraid to condemn racists, we need to combat them until they stop.”

Atalanta, which is based in Bergamo, is playing in Parma while its stadium is being renovated.

Serie A: Juventus edge past Parma; Napoli-Fiorentina thriller (video)

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A roundup of all of Saturday’s action in Italy’s top flight…

[ MORE: Liverpool bests wobbly Arsenal at Anfield | Player ratings ]

Parma 0-1 Juventus

Juventus’ quest to win a ninth straight Serie A title began with a win away to Parma on Saturday, but only just barely. Giorgio Chiellini scored the game’s only goal in the 21st minute, redirecting Alex Sandro’s half-volley past the goalkeeper after a corner kick wasn’t fully cleared. The victory sets Maurizio Sarri‘s side (Sarri wasn’t in charge of the team on Saturday as he continues to recover from pneumonia) on its way in a season that figures to feature multiple challengers to the throne, with Napoli and Inter Milan each strengthening their squads considerably in the summer. Sarri will also miss out on next weekend’s heavyweight clash between Juve and last season’s runners-up Napoli at Allianz Stadium.

Cristiano Ronaldo had a goal taken off the board after the video-assistant referee picked up on the narrowest of offside calls.

$85-million center back Matthijs de Ligt was named to the bench, where he remained for the entirety of 90 minutes, with veterans Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci preferred to the 20-year-old. Goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon joined De Ligt on the bench in his return to Juve after spending last season at Paris Saint-Germain.

Fiorentina 3-4 Napoli

Napoli’s 4-3 victory over Fiorentina was a truly wild ride. There is no other way to describe it.

Napoli went from a goal down inside the first 10 minutes, to 2-1 up just before halftime, level at 2-2 in the 52nd minute, 3-2 ahead just four minutes later, level at 3-3 in the 65th, and finally 4-3 ahead just two minutes later.

Dries Mertens (38th), Lorenzo Insigne (43rd and 67th) and Jose Callejon (56th) got the goals for Carlo Ancelotti’s side.

Hirving Lozano, who joined Napoli for $44 million on Friday, wasn’t yet available to make his debut but will only add another level of quality to what has proven to be an already impressive attacking unit.

Sunday’s Serie A schedule

Udinese v. AC Milan — 12 p.m. ET
Roma v. Genoa — 2:45 p.m. ET
Sampdoria v. Lazio — 2:45 p.m. ET
Cagliari v. Brescia — 2:45 p.m. ET
Verona v. Bologna — 2:45 p.m. ET
SPAL v. Atalanta — 2:45 p.m. ET
Torino v. Sassuolo — 2:45 p.m. ET

Franck Ribery signs for Fiorentina

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Franck Ribery has signed for Fiorentina in Serie A.

The French winger, 36, left Bayern Munich when his contract expired over the summer and many thought he may retire after a long list of injuries.

However, the tricky wideman has arrived in Italy after 12 seasons at Bayern which saw him win 23 major trophies, including the UEFA Champions League in 2013.

As for Fiorentina, this is a huge deal for them as Ribery will be unveiled in a press conference tomorrow.

The Florence club have slumped in recent seasons and barely avoided relegation from Serie A in 2018-19, and that came after six consecutive top eight finishes in Italy’s top-flight.

U.S. businessman Rocco Commisso bought the club for $181 million this summer and is promising to steadily rebuild the squad under Vincenzo Montella, who had a glorious spell in charge from 2012-15.

Adding Ribery means they have a big name on board, but can he stay fit and help this new-look side push up the Serie A table? Fiorentina have made 13 new signings this summer and a huge overhaul was needed.

If Ribery can stay fit and fresh, he showed at Bayern last season that he still has a little left in the tank.

Nketiah leads Arsenal past Fiorentina (video)

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Eddie Nketiah scored twice as Arsenal beat Fiorentina 3-0 in Charlotte on Saturday.

Joe Willock also scored for the Gunners, which beat Colorado Rapids and Bayern Munich in their first two matches of the preseason and meet Real Madrid in Maryland on Tuesday.

[ MORE: Guardiola hails KDB ]

Fiorentina took 18 of the match’s 30 shots, though Arsenal had nearly 60 percent of the ball.

Nketiah, 20, scored against Burnley in last season’s Premier League finale and then late against Bayern Munich earlier this week.

He was deft in a high-pressure spot for this one.

American billionaire Commisso buys Fiorentina

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Rocco Commisso is the new owner of Fiorentina in Italy. 

The American billionaire, who is CEO of Mediacom, was born in Italy but moved to the U.S. at the age of 12 and has confirmed the news to Tariq Panja of the New York Times on Thursday.

It is believed Commisso has bought Fiorentina for somewhere between $150-200 million. Fiorentina confirmed the news as Commisso is the fifth foreign owner of a Serie A club.

He previously failed in a bid to buy AC Milan with his love for soccer is clear as he is also the owner of the New York Cosmos in the U.S., the historic club which has been in the NASL and now the NPSL in recent years.

Speaking to the NY Times about the purchase, Commisso was delighted to be the new owner of the Florence club.

“There’s going to be a tremendous amount of effort, work, passion and money all going to be put in to make sure we have a better season than we had last year,” Commisso said. “Given the fact I was born in Italy, my love for Italian soccer and what soccer has done for me I wanted to eventually buy a quality team here in Italy and I’m very proud, happy and honored to buy Fiorentina, a club that’s got great traditions.”

Fiorentina finished in a disappointing 16th place in Serie A in 2018-19, as that slump came after several seasons of qualifying for European competition.

Previous owner Diego Della Valle took over when Fiorentina were declared bankrupt and despite plenty of progress over the last 17 years, fans have turned on him in recent months.

With the success of American businessman James Pallotta at AS Roma in recent seasons, it will be intriguing to see how much money Commisso will provide in transfer funds and how he can help improve profits off the pitch (due to his vast business experience) to help return Fiorentina to top four challengers in Serie A.

He seems like being cautious to start off with, but the potential for Fiorentina to return to the upper echelons of Italian and European soccer is there.