Italy federation clashes with minister over chants

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MILAN - Italy's football federation president Giancarlo Abete has clashed with Interior Minister Roberto Maroni about who should halt matches in the case of racist chants.

Italian football has a severe problem with fans singing racist chants, particularly aimed at Inter Milan's Italian-born black striker Mario Balotelli.

Both the goverment and federation agree matches should be suspended immediately if racist chanting is heard but Abete says the referee can not act alone.

"As long as the rules are as they are, the federation, and therefore the referee, can do nothing against racist chants because right now the power to stop a game lies with the police," Abete told reporters.

Teams are frequently fined for fans' racist chants and Juventus had to play a game behind closed doors last season but threats to suspend a match have not been followed through.

Earlier, Maroni told Sky TV: "It doesn't depend on the interior minister to intervene when a game is going on, but I really believe the federation must have strong rules.

"If there is the even slighest sign that there are racist chants, the referee must immediately stop the game."