'We have a serious problem' - Serie A clubs admit racism crisis

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All 20 Serie A clubs, the Italian FA (FIGC), and Serie A itself have signed their names to an open letter admitting Italian football has “a serious problem with racism”.

Incidents of racist abuse directed towards players have made regular headlines this season, with players such as Romelu Lukaku and Mario Balotelli outspoken in their criticism of such abuse.

Now, the game’s governing bodies in Italy have pledged themselves to a “comprehensive and robust Serie A anti-racism policy”, intended to stamp such discrimination out of the game.

The letter reads: “We have to publicly recognise that we have a serious problem with racism.

“It’s a problem that we have not done enough to combat over the years.

“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.

“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.

“Driven by the clubs, positive conversations have been held in recent weeks with Lega Serie A, FIGC and international experts on how to tackle and eradicate this issue from the game.

“We, the undersigned clubs, are united by our desire for serious change and Lega Serie A has stated its intention to lead the way by delivering a comprehensive and robust Serie A anti-racism policy, stricter new laws and regulations and a plan for educating those within the game about the scourge of racism.

“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.

“Yours sincerely,

“Atalanta, Bologna, Brescia, Cagliari, Fiorentina, Genoa, Hellas Verona, Inter Milan, Juventus, Lazio, Lecce, AC Milan, Napoli, Parma, AS Roma, Sampdoria, Sassuolo, SPAL, Torino, Udinese.”

Players may be most encouraged by the pledge for “stricter new laws and regulations”, with a lack of firm action on the part of the game’s governing bodies a common complaint in recent times.

It will be hoped that if Serie A’s measures prove successful, they can show the way forward for leagues around the world grappling with the growing scourge of racism.