AC Milan striker Mario Balotelli is once again in the news. This time, though, it's not because he has done something wacky or wrong.
Sources such as The Independent and The Guardian confirmed on Sunday that Balotelli was the subject of racist abuse during the latest Milan derby. According to reports, groups of Inter fans waved "inflated bananas" and also yelled racial taunts at the player who, while born in Italy, is of Ghanaian descent. Balotelli, who played for Inter from 2006-10, was facing his former club for the first time since joining AC Milan last month. It is not believed that the chants hurled toward the striker had much to do about football.
This would be far from the first time that Inter supporters have been guilty of racist actions inside a stadium. Earlier this month, the club was fined 15,000 euros after a group of fans belted out racist chants about Balotelli during the team's contest against Chievo. The Guardian quoted Inter president Massimo Moratti as having stated the following on that particular match: "I was told about it because I couldn't make out clearly what they were saying. I'm very sorry about that. I'm very sorry and I really hope it doesn't happen during the derby." The Serie A disciplinary council will meet on Tuesday to review what occurred at San Siro over the weekend.
Balotelli earned himself headlines last summer when he spoke out about racism in football prior to Euro 2012. "If (racist abuse) were to happen again, I would leave the pitch right away and go back home," he stated. "Let's see what will happen at the Euros. I hope there won't be any problem." He then went on to say: "I will not accept racism at all. It's unacceptable. If someone throws a banana at me in the street, I will go to jail, because I will kill them."
Racism was a major topic in the football world last Wednesday after a group of Tottenham Hotspur supporters were attacked in a pub in France the night before Spurs played a Europa League contest against Lyon. Tottenham are known for having a strong Jewish fan base, and some of the assailants were seen making Nazi salutes during the attack. Lyon are not expected to be punished because of that incident. Spurs will play Inter next month in two Europa League matches, one of which will be played in Italy.
What occurred on Sunday at San Siro offers yet another reminder of a point that major football organizations continue to ignore: Fining clubs because of racist abuse from supporters does not at all prevent racism from occurring in and out of stadiums. FIFA, UEFA and leagues such as Serie A must find another way to make it clear that racism will not be tolerated (the banners aren't doing the trick, guys). Perhaps the answer is to dock teams league points, or prevent certain clubs from playing in all European competitions for a set amount of time.
Inter, of course, will not receive either of those suggested punishments this spring. Instead, they will likely be fined, possibly the same amount that they were fined earlier this February. Until the top organizations stop being an accessory during and after the fact, racism in world football isn't going anywhere.
The time for those in charge to step up regarding this matter came and went a long time ago.
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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