Platini: Matches should be stopped for racist abuse

ROME - UEFA wants matches to be halted if fans make racist chants, the European governing body's president Michel Platini said on Tuesday. Juventus were ordered to play their next home league game behind closed doors on Monday after fans racially abused Inter Milan striker Mario Balotelli in Saturday's 1-1 Serie A draw.

"We will call for play to be stopped for 10 minutes when these things happen and announcements to be made in the stadium," Platini told a news conference in Rome. "If it continues the match will be stopped. Courage is needed when there is racism in the stands. That's UEFA's mission."

Racist abuse is not uncommon in Italian football and small fines are usually handed out. However, the seriousness of Saturday's incidents prompted the authorities to come down heavily on Juve.

"It is a difficult moment for the Italian soccer federation. It has taken its responsibility," added ex-Juve player Platini.

Italian federation president Giancarlo Abete, who hopes to bring Euro 2016 to the country, told reporters that rules would be changed to allow games to be stopped because of racist chanting.

"The Italian system already gives the authorities the power to suspend the game in the case of banners that incite racial discrimination," he said.

"We'll reinforce this, naturally while staying attentive and finding a balance for the security requirements of the public."


The 18-year-old Balotelli scored Inter's opener in the top-of-the-table clash and was subjected to chants of "a black Italian does not exist" from sections of the crowd in Turin.

Balotelli, an Italy under-21 international, was born in Palermo but is of Ghanaian descent.

Juve apologised but are appealing against the decision to ban fans from the home game with Lecce on May 3.

Inter Milan president Massimo Moratti said he would have pulled his team off if he had been at Turin's Stadio Olimpico.

He has been criticised for his response by Italian media given that Inter were at the centre of a racism storm in 2005 when Messina player Marco Zoro was verbally abused by fans.

Platini was in Rome to hand the Champions League trophy to the city ahead of the final here on May 27. UEFA has stuck with its decision to host the final in Rome despite Italian soccer's problems with racism and hooliganism.

The UEFA president said a number of children from the central Italian region of Abruzzo, hit by a large earthquake earlier this month, would be given free tickets to the final.