Hellas Verona have been handed a partial stadium ban for racist abuse against Brescia striker Mario Balotelli, closing only one sector of the stands.
The punishment was handed down by the Disciplinary Commission following incidents in Sunday afternoon’s Serie A match at the Stadio Bentegodi.
Balotelli kicked the ball into the precise section of the ‘Curva’ where the racist ‘monkey noises’ were clearly audible, then threatened to walk off the pitch in protest.
The referee followed protocol and suspended the game for several minutes while a warning was read out over the speaker system.
It is this specific sector, the Poltrone Est, that is closed down for one match, which holds 3,590 seats.
However, fans who have season tickets for that sector can simply buy a regular ticket and sit elsewhere.
The punishment was handed down because the “racist abuse was clearly audible, not just by the player, but also by the representative of the Federation positioned in the vicinity.”
The rest of the stadium is not banned, because there was also a chant supporting Balotelli after the incident, and applause from most of the arena to that sentiment.
New rules in Italy allow clubs to see bans and fines lessened significantly if they collaborate with the authorities and police in identifying and punishing the perpetrators.
Until a few weeks ago, only the clubs were automatically held responsible for the behaviour of their fans, which is why it needed to be a certain proportion of the crowd to be considered punishable.
Verona announced this afternoon that they have banned ultras leader Luca Castellini from all their games until June 2030 after he repeatedly used racist slurs against Balotelli during an interview.
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