The song sadly remains the same when it comes to racism in world football.
Serie A confirmed on Tuesday that Inter have been fined 50,000 euros after groups of the club's fans racially abused AC Milan forward Mario Balotelli during the Milan derby that occurred this past Sunday. According to the Telegraph, the fine is for racist taunts chanted by fans and also for "offensive banners and fans' use of a laser aimed at players' eyes." Inter were fined earlier in 2013 after fans yelled out racist taunts about Balotelli when the team faced off against Chievo.
In an absurd twist, Balotelli also received a fine for his actions on Sunday. As explained in a post found on The Independent website, the Milan star will be 10,000 euros lighter because he "raised a finger to his lips" toward fans who were guilty of racist abuse. Balotelli also spit in the direction of fans at some point.
Balotelli played for Inter from 2006-10, and it's no secret that racism played a significant role in his leaving the club and Serie A. While Italian officials have claimed that they are serious about putting an end to such instances during Serie A and international matches, little has changed on the matter in the country. Lazio are currently facing what is their fourth racism charge of this season alone. In the eyes of some, racism, violence among fans and corruption is just a way of life when it comes to the top-flight Italian league.
Racist behavior among fans during football matches has resulted in a variety of punishments that have done absolutely nothing to prevent future incidents from occurring. Juventus once played a home game behind close doors a few years ago after fans racially abused Balotelli when he was at Inter, and the club was fined multiple times during the 2011-12 campaign because of racism in the stands.
Some within the football world have suggested that the only way to put a real end to racism at matches is to hit clubs and national teams where it hurts the most. Former Arsenal and Barcelona star and current New York Red Bulls captain Thierry Henry recently stated that he believes clubs should be docked points if fans are found guilty of racist behavior at a game. Others believe that teams should either be kicked out of major competitions (i.e. league cup, Europa League and/or Champions League) or lose a significant amount of home games during a single season.
It is not at all an opinion to claim that fining teams is not an effective way to combat racism. It's a fact that is proven time and time again every year. Execs from leagues around the world and also at UEFA and FIFA are always quick to say the "right thing" whenever the subject arises during press events. Actions speak louder than words, as the old saying goes.
When will the day come when major organizations actually act to put an end to that which stains the beautiful game more than anything else?
Zac has been covering Tottenham Hotspur, Major League Soccer, RBNY, the USMNT and other soccer leagues for Yahoo! Sports since 2010.
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