Kalidou Koulibaly: Napoli defender to miss Lazio game after red card appeal fails

Kalidou Koulibaly
Napoli and Senegal defender Kalidou Koulibaly

Napoli's Senegal defender Kalidou Koulibaly will miss Sunday's Serie A fixture at Lazio after the appeal against his red card in the defeat by Inter Milan was rejected.

Napoli had contested the decision on the grounds of wrongful dismissal because Koulibaly, 27, was sent off after approaching the referee over alleged racist chanting.

He missed the 3-2 victory over Bologna three days later as a result of the red card he was shown "for sarcastically applauding a referee's decision".

"The unacceptable atmosphere created inside the stadium during this match does not justify and cannot be used by an athlete to ridicule the referee or justify an act of violence," the Italian Football Federation (FIGC) said.

A Napoli club statement said the FIGC had "missed a great opportunity" to fight racism and described the decision as a "sad defeat for football".

"After all these extraordinary events, the appeal was turned down," the Napoli statement added. "A procedural rule was incapable of doing the only thing there was to do: give back to Kalidou Koulibaly - this Senegalese lad who, in light of these events, represents everything that is good and bad in Italy at the moment - the dignity he deserves.

"Koulibaly, Italian football and the institutions all come out of this degraded. Koulibaly's ban should have been overturned regardless of the rules and the bureaucracy. All this does is kill football, because football is, above all, a passion that unites billions of people around the world and it should not be derided like this.

"A great opportunity has been missed today. Sadly, it proves there is still much to do and many things to change."

Napoli boss Carlo Ancelotti said he asked for the match to be suspended three times and that Koulibaly was targeted in the 1-0 defeat on 26 December.

Inter Milan were ordered to play two home league games behind closed doors following the incident.

The Italian side will also play a third match at the San Siro without opening the 'curva' section of the ground, popular with fans known as 'ultras'.

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