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Inter Milan to play next two home matches closed

FIGC orders Nerazzurri to go behind closed doors because of fan behavior.

FC Internazionale v SSC Napoli - Serie A
Referee Paolo Mazzoleni shows the red card to Kalidou Koulibaly of SSC Napoli during the Serie A match between FC Internazionale and SSC Napoli at Stadio Giuseppe Meazza on December 26, 2018 in Milan, Italy.
Photo by Emilio Andreoli/Getty Images

The Italian Football Federation has ordered that Inter Milan play its next two home matches behind closed doors following fan abuse in the last home match, a 1-0 win over Napoli.

Fans lobbed racist comments toward Kalidou Koulibaly, including throwing bananas at him. Koulibaly subsequently was shown off the pitch after receiving consecutive yellow cards.

Other fan violence happened outside the Giuseppe Meazza following the match where a fan was killed after colliding with a van and four others were injured in separate fan-related incidents.

In addition to playing their next two home matches — Jan. 19 vs. Sassuolo and Feb. 3 vs. Bologna — the Nerazzurri will play their third home match of the new year — Feb. 17 vs. Sampdoria — without the ultras section.

FIGC president Gabriele Gravina said the remaining Serie A matches will go ahead as scheduled, saying “the championship will not stop … we do not stop against those who want to contaminate our world.”

Gravina also said the actions during the Inter-Napoli match are “no longer tolerable” and that the federation condemns “all forms of both physical and verbal violence, with the aggravating circumstance of racial discrimination. We do not tolerate such behavior [sic] ruining football.”

Inter released a strong statement stating that the club represents “integration, hospitality and progressiveness.”

“That is why we feel obliged today, once again, to reiterate that anyone who does not understand or accept our history – this Club’s history – is not one of us,” the statement said.

Italian Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini also tweeted his plans to convene a meeting after the start of the new year to discuss fan activity and stadium security.

“In 2018 you can not die for a football match. At the beginning of the year I will convene the leaders of supporters and Serie A and B companies at the Viminale, so that the stadiums and the surrounding area will once again become a place of fun and not of violence,” the tweet said.

An anti-discrimination group called Fare (Football Against Racism in Europe) said the federation’s punishment of Inter Milan was not nearly enough.

“The incident last night follows a pattern in which players are abused, they report it to the referee, the referee fails to take effective action and the player is eventually sent off,” the statement said. “This pattern is observed across Europe, it highlights the repeated failure to protect minority players to tackle what is a systemic issue in many countries.

“We welcome Carlo Ancelotti’s comments pledging to take his team off the field of play if this type of abuse happens again. Under Ancelotti’s leadership the position of Napoli on racism and discriminatory abuse is clear, we note that the club previously threatened to take their players off the pitch before a match against Atalanta on December 3.”

The group also pointed out that former FIGC President Carlo Tavecchi received a six-month ban from UEFA over racist remarks made.

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