Racism in football: Serie A clubs pledge to combat abuse in Italy

Mario Balotelli has been targeted by racist abuse
Mario Balotelli has been among the players targeted by racist abuse in a number of incidents which have blighted Serie A matches this season

All 20 Serie A clubs have made a united pledge to combat Italian football's "serious problem" with racism because there is no more "time to waste".

The top-flight clubs said they could "no longer stay silent" after several recent incidents in which Serie A players have been racially abused.

"It's a problem we have not done enough to combat over the years," the clubs said in an open letter on Friday.

"We, the undersigned clubs, are united by our desire for serious change."

Earlier this month, Brescia's Mario Balotelli called fans who shouted racist abuse at him "small minded" and "imbeciles".

Inter Milan striker Romelu Lukaku said the abuse he suffered in September, when Cagliari fans made monkey noises after the Belgian scored a penalty, showed the game was "going backwards".

The Sardinian club were later cleared of racist chanting, leading the head of anti-discriminatory body Fare to say that Italian football authorities and their disciplinary systems to combat racism were "not fit for purpose".

Serie A says it intends to deliver "a comprehensive and robust" anti-racism policy with new, stricter laws and regulations.

"Images of players being racially abused in Italian football have been viewed and discussed all around the world this season and that shames us all," the letter added.

"No individual should ever be subjected to racist abuse - inside or outside of football - and we can no longer stay silent on this issue or wait for it to magically disappear.

"We don't have any more time to waste.

"We must now act with speed, with purpose and with unity and we call on you, the fans, to support us in this vitally important endeavour."

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