sport

FIGC lay out racism plans

The Italian football association (FIGC) has told players not to follow the lead of Kevin-Prince Boateng and walk off the pitch if they are subjected to racist abuse.

The FIGC on Wednesday reaffirmed its policy for a pitchside 'director' to decide whether to suspend matches in such circumstances - a move that echoes FIFA president Sepp Blatter's calls earlier this week.

AC Milan midfielder Boateng left the pitch, followed by his team-mates, after he was subjected to racist taunts during a friendly against lower-league Pro Patria last week.

The Ghana international's action have since earned widespread praise while

the FIGC have vowed to remove racism from stands across the country.

Part of that move has seen the governing body meet the Osservatorio - the organisation tasked with security and safety at stadia in Italy - to discuss the procedure surrounding racist incidents.

Those discussions were detailed in simultaneous statements from both organisations today - which included calling for players to remain on the pitch - but also revealed matches could be suspended to warn fans about their behaviour.

The Osservatorio statement detailed the exact process, saying: "In the event of racism, intolerance or anti-Semitism, the referee and players will report through the fourth official to a director for public safety, someone solely responsible for making the decision to end a game.

"A report will be filed to the Federal Prosecutor's office. In the event of serious racism or intolerance the game can be suspended temporarily to broadcast warning messages through PA systems in the stadia."

FIGC general manager Antonello Valentini, who met with Osservatorio officials this week, welcomed the statement.

"Following on from yesterday's meeting, my continued presence here today is an opportunity to make sure no-one thinks we are underestimating the problem," he said.

"The FIGC has always paid maximum attention to the issue, in line with state and sporting laws.

"The refinements to certain procedures that the Osservatorio have outlined today are based on yesterday's talks and are aimed at making stadia and sport venues more civilised places. "These kind of events must not be allowed to continue.

"The plan is to ban racists from the stadia and we are grateful to the Ministry of the Interior and the Osservatorio for what they are doing about it and what they will continue to do."