‘Like a tumour you have to systematically remove’ – Italian Serie A chief promises ‘zero tolerance’ for racism

Romelu Lukaku of Inter Milan

Angelo Amante

Italian soccer will take a "zero tolerance" approach to racist fans, using technology to help identify offenders and ban them from stadiums, the head of Serie A said on Tuesday.

The issue of racist abuse of players is high on the agenda in European soccer after Real Madrid's Vinicius Jr was targeted during a weekend match against Valencia in Spain.

"There are in stadiums, as in society, a percentage of racist people," Serie A chief executive Luigi De Siervo told reporters.

"Today, with technology and stadium microphones, they can be heard and we can punish them. It's a battle, like a tumour you have to systematically remove it even if it has recurrences," he added.

De Siervo noted that Italy had banned around 170 Juventus fans after they hurled abuse at Inter Milan's Romelu Lukaku during an Italian Cup semi-final last month, calling it an example of the "path to zero tolerance" for racists.

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The Italian government will invest 10 million euros ($11 million) to promote Serie A abroad, using the sponsorship to support its own "Made in Italy" export campaign, De Siervo told reporters at the briefing.

Serie A has slipped behind the English Premier League and Spain's La Liga in terms of earnings power, and Italian soccer has struggled with fan violence and other scandals.

Juventus, the most successful club in Italian soccer, were docked 10 points on Monday as part of one of the inquiries into the club's accounting.

But De Siervo said that investment by overseas funds in recent years showed that Serie A was on the way back, with the presence of Italian clubs in the three major European finals this season underscoring the recovery.

He said the Juventus case, relating to the accounting of transfers, showed Italy was tackling an industry-wide issue.

"We are the only mature country that looks at the problem and tries to solve it for the future," he said.