Italy’s interior minister Matteo Salvini says referee Paolo Mazzoleni was right not to suspend Inter Milan’s 1-0 win over Napoli on Boxing Day after monkey chants were aimed at Kalidou Koulibaly.
Napoli coach Carlo Ancelotti said he had tried three times to halt the game and threatened he’d take his team off the field the next time such an incident happens, but Salvini says that is not the answer to combatting racism.
“Suspending a game in the event of racist chants is very risky,” he said after a meeting with representatives of Italian clubs, fan groups, the Olympic Committee, the Italian FA, Lega Serie A and government officials on Monday. “You risk putting the destiny of many people in the hands of just a few. It’s very hard to find objective criteria for such a decision.
“I shared the decision not to suspend Inter-Napoli, not because I approve [of] the whistles or the monkey chants, but because we risk there being greater problems outside the ground than those inside.
“I remember I was at the stadium for AC Milan-Juve and the constant, continued boos in that game were for [Leonardo] Bonucci, who is very white, very good and very beautiful, and who had changed clubs two or three times — so who decides whether that is discrimination? Who decides whether that is vulgar?
“Violence should not exist and I’ll do all I can to uproot it, inside and outside stadiums, but we need objective criteria, and I think this is hard to interpret in this case.”
The death of an Inter ultra in clashes outside the San Siro prompted Salvini to call Monday’s meeting and Italian FA president Gabriele Gravina said trouble-makers need to be “suffocated” to ensure true football fans can continue to enjoy the game.
“We want to eradicate all forms of violence and bad behaviour at all levels, inside and outside stadiums,” he said.