Gianluigi Buffon calls for severe punishment for racism

The Juventus keeper believes most supporters accused are not motivated by racial aggression when they chant but feels it is fair "severely punish certain forms of intolerance."
Juventus veteran Gianluigi Buffon has called for racism in soccer to be punished "severely," though he believes most supporters are not guilty of the offense.

Juventus was fined 30,000 euros for racist chants from fans during a clash with AC Milan in April, while Lazio and Inter have been hit with stadium bans in the past 12 months for similar offenses.

While Buffon insists most supporters are not motivated by racial or regional discrimination when singing from the stands, he believes action must be taken against those who are found guilty.

"I don't think fans are acting on racial hatred. Even when they offend the opponent with their shouts, I think the intention is to be heard, to emphasize their dissent," he told La Gazzetta dello Sport. "I was one of them, I sang backing vocals when I was little. I know the spirit in which the songs are made. And with players of other races within the teams, it wouldn't make sense.

"But I think it is fair to severely punish certain forms of intolerance. I did not presume to fully understand this kind of abuse, I cannot have the same sensitivity as those affected by these attacks. The line between teasing and denigration is very thin."

Buffon also believes players must not be held up as role models in the matter of racial tolerance, insisting many players are too young to be handed such a responsibility.

"We know we have the power to influence others. But it is not up to us to educate people, the responsibility is not fair because many of us are young," said the Italy veteran. "It is clear that, on issues related to fans and racist chanting, sometimes it is appropriate to send a message."