Serie A: Italian player banned from national team after racist incident… which he denies


Italian soccer’s racism scandals continue to overshadow the sporting product as the latest alleged racist incident between Francesco Acerbi and Juan Jesus during Inter-Napoli sees the storm rear its ugly head again.

The 1-1 draw in Serie A, which actually saw Jesus score an 81st minute equaliser, between the league leaders and seventh-placed Napoli was completely overshadowed by the subsequent claims against Acerbi.

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“It doesn’t sit well with me,” Jesus said to referee Federico La Penna during the match. “He told me ‘you’re a nig***’, and that doesn’t sit well with me.”

Acerbi, after explaining what happened to coach Luciano Spalletti and his teammates, as required by the internal policy of the team, has been excluded from the national team as the matter has quickly reached the training camp.

That is until justice clarifies what happened following the conclusion of an investigation as Gianluca Mancini (Roma) will replace him for the friendlies in the United States against Venezuela and Ecuador.

“Pending the reconstruction of what happened respecting the autonomy of sports justice,” the Italian soccer federation said. “It follows that there was no defamatory, denigrating or racist intention on his part.”

They added that the ban was “to ensure the necessary serenity for the national team and for the player himself, who will return to his club today.”

Acerbi speaks out

Acerbi, who was not sent off by La Penna, could face a maximum penalty of 10 matches, according to article 28 of the Italian Code of Sports Justice, if it is proven that he said those words to Juan Jesus.

That’s under their rules that say “discriminatory behavior constitutes any conduct that, directly or indirectly, involves offense, denigration or insult on grounds of race, color, religion, language, sex, nationality, ethnic origin, personal or social status or constitutes ideological propaganda prohibited by law or in any case praising discriminatory behavior”.

He would also be definitively expelled from the national team so the player gave his opinion on what happened, denying that he insulted Jesus with racist terms as he bids to protect his career and name.

“I have never said any racist word,” Acerbi said to the media. “And now I say f**k racism.

“Racist phrases have never come out of my mouth, that’s for sure. I am very calm. I’m sorry I left the national team’s training camp.”

Strangely enough, after reporting the player to the referee and indirectly the Italian FA, Jesus has come out on the side of Acerbi. The Brazilian centerback, aged 32, denied his anger with the Inter defender and said that he will not take the problem off the field of play.

“Angry with Acerbi?,” Jesus said when asked on his thoughts. “What happens on the field stays on the field.

Acerbi went a bit too far with his words but he’s a good guy, he apologized and everything is fine. We hugged. I hope it doesn’t happen again, he’s a smart guy.”



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