Referee criticized for protocol lapse in Koulibaly incident
FIFPro and UEFA have criticized referee Paolo Mazzoleni for “failing to respect anti-racism protocol” after monkey noises were directed at Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly throughout his team’s 1-0 Serie A loss at Inter Milan.
FIFPro, the world players’ union, and European soccer’s ruling body UEFA also said the racial abuse aimed at the player, who was born in France to Senegalese parents, on Wednesday was “unacceptable” and had “no place in football.”
The two organizations backed the prompt action taken by the Italian league judge, who has decided Inter’s next two home matches should be played behind closed doors, and included a partial closure for the club’s third home game.
“FIFPro and UEFA are very concerned by this unacceptable racist incident and by what appears on the surface to be a failure to respect the widely-recognized three-step anti-racism protocol,” they said in a joint statement on Friday.
“Koulibaly was subject to racist chanting and, despite announcements made by the stadium speaker, the chants did not stop. Moreover, it seems Napoli’s coaching staff had already informed the referee several times of racist chants. FIFPro and UEFA support the Italian football authorities on any additional measure that will be taken to tackle racism in stadia for which FIFPro and UEFA have a zero-tolerance policy.”
Koulibaly was sent off in the 81st minute after receiving two yellow cards in quick succession, the second for sarcastically applauding Mazzoleni after being shown the first.
The league judge’s punishment was handed out for the racism aimed at Koulibaly and for anti-territorial chants aimed at Napoli.
Also, Koulibaly was suspended for two matches — one for the red card and one for applauding the referee.
After the game, Napoli coach Carlo Ancelotti threatened to lead his team off the field the next time one of his players was subjected to continued racist abuse. He asked several times for the match against Inter to be halted after the chants, and announcements warning fans this would happen were made but no further action was taken.
The first step of UEFA’s anti-racism protocol says “if the referee becomes aware of serious racist behavior, or is informed of it by the fourth official, he shall, as a first step, halt the game and ask for an announcement to be made requesting the public to immediately desist from such racist behavior.”
The second step explains that “if the racist behavior does not cease once the game has restarted, the referee shall suspend the match for a reasonable period of time, and ask the teams to go to the dressing rooms.”
The final step says “if the racist conduct does not end after the game has then resumed, the referee shall definitively abandon the match as a last resort. The UEFA delegate will assist the referee, through the fourth official, in determining whether the racist behavior has stopped, and any decision to abandon the fixture will only be taken after all other possible measures have been implemented and the impact of abandoning the match on the security of the players and public has been assessed.”