Inter penalised after fans' racist attack against Napoli player

Defender Kalidou Koulibaly had monkey noises directed at him by Inter supporters throughout match at San Siro Stadium

Defender Kalidou Koulibaly
Defender Kalidou Koulibaly

Inter Milan will play their next two home matches without fans and a third game with a portion of the stadium closed as punishment for their fans racially abusing a Napoli player, the latest incident of racism to blight football in Italy.

The league judge's ruling on Thursday came a day after Kalidou Koulibaly was targeted by Inter supporters who directed monkey noises at him throughout the Seria A match at Milan's San Siro Stadium.

Napoli coach Carlo Ancelotti said he made three appeals for the match to be stopped but his requests were ignored.

Koulibaly, a French-born Senegal defender, was eventually sent off in the game that Napoli lost 1-0.

"I think that the Koulibaly red car was due to a very particular state of mind he was in. He had been insulted during the whole match," Ancelotti told a post-match press conference.

"We asked the federation to do something about it but they just made some announcements and the match was not suspended like we have demanded."

Ancelotti also threatened to lead his team off the field the next time one of his players was subjected to continued racist abuse. 

Giuseppe Sala, the mayor of Milan, apologised to Koulibaly, calling the abuse a "shameful act against a respected athlete".

"I think that the Koulibaly red car was due to a very particular state of mind he was in. He had been insulted during the whole match," Ancelotti told a post-match press conference.

"We asked the federation to do something about it but they just made some announcements and the match was not suspended like we have demanded."

Ancelotti also threatened to lead his team off the field the next time one of his players was subjected to continued racist abuse. 

Giuseppe Sala, the mayor of Milan, apologised to Koulibaly, calling the abuse a "shameful act against a respected athlete".

Pavel Klymenko, of the anti-discrimination body Football Against Racism in Europe, says the latest racist against against Koulibaly is a big test for those in charge of the Italian game.

"They have to take the issue seriously. This is a test for the new leadership of the Italian FA. They have to get this right," he told news outlets.

"When we look at the politics in Italy right now, this scaremongering of refugees and migrants; the rise of the far-right parties in Italy and across Europe; Interior Minister Matteo Salvini introducing regulations against migrants and ethnic minorities in the country - this has an impact on the stadiums," added Klymenko.

"With this type of political background, we will see more of these incidents in the coming year."

Salvini's far-right, anti-migration League party secured 17 percent of the vote at the country's general election in March, and a few months later went on to form a coalition government with the populist Five Star Movement.

Since then, Salvini, who is also a co-deputy prime minister, has closed Italian ports to refugee and migrant rescue boats, urged officials to apply tougher rules on asylum requests and called for a census in order to deport Roma without citizenship.

He has come under fire from activists, human rights groups and political opponents who accuse him of creating a climate of hate in Italy following a spate of racist attacks that have coincided with his anti-immigration drive.

Salvini has dismissed concerns over racist attacks in Italy, saying migrants were to blame for a third of all crimes in the country. "This is the only true drama," he said this summer.

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