Gaetano Iannini was sent off during Matera’s Coppa Italia match against Sudtirol after racially abusing an opponent. The midfielder has been further slapped with a 10-match ban by the FIGC.
Iannini becomes the first player to be charged under the new anti-discrimination laws passed by the Italian Football Federation back in June. Following repeated incidents of racial abuse, the FIGC passed new amendments in the law to tackle these issues.
“[Any person] who insults the human dignity of a person or group of persons, including reasons tied to colour of skin, race, religion or ethnic origin, will receive a ban of at least 10 games or any other sanction considered appropriate.” – Read a statement released by FIGC back then.
The above mentioned incident took place on Sunday in the first round of the Coppa Italia competition where Matera faced Suditrol. Iannini abused Ghanaian midfielder Caleb Ansah Ekuban during the first half of the match, and was sent off immediately by the referee. With a man down, Matera went on to lose the match 2-0, but Iannini was expected to receive further punishment for the incident.
An official statement released on Serie A’s official site stated that Gaetano Iannini has been for 10 matches for “directing an insult of racial discrimination at an opponent”. This news comes just weeks after newly promoted Serie A club Sassuolo were fined 30,000 euros after fans abused AC Milan midfielder Kevin Constant during a friendly.
Constant was of course not the first Milan footballer to face such abuse from the fans as last season Mario Balotelli and Kevin-Prince Boateng were also treated with such abuse by a lot of fans across Italy – something which has even forced Boateng to abandon a friendly match last season. Roma have also been charged with similar misbehavior from the fans and the club will start their 2013-14 campaign with a partially closed stadiums.
According to the new set of laws, a referee might stop a match midway through it, if the crowd abuses the players racially. The length of bans on players has also been increased while clubs might even penalized with point reduction and heavy fine if their fans continue such behavior despite warnings. While the rules have been put in place, it is yet to be seen how much of it will actually be implemented by the officials. But banning Iannini might just have sent out the right message to the fans and other footballers ahead of the new season.