News ID: 236548
Published: 0222 GMT December 28, 2018

Inter travels to Empoli without fans as racism, violence mar Christmas football

Inter travels to Empoli without fans as racism, violence mar Christmas football
MARCO BERTORELLO/AFP
Inter Milan captain Mauro Icardi (L) comforts Napoli's Senegalese defender Kalidou Koulibaly amid racist chanting at the San Siro on December 26, 2018.

Inter Milan travels to Tuscany side Empoli today without its fans after racism and violence overshadowed Christmas football in the Italian league.

Police in Florence said that visiting Inter supporters would not be allowed to attend this weekend's match against promoted Empoli with the away stand closed, AFP reported.

It follows violence before Wednesday's clash against Napoli at the San Siro which resulted in a fan's death, with the game overshadowed by racist chanting towards Senegalese defender Kalidou Koulibaly.

For the second consecutive year Serie A has broken with tradition, playing matches over Christmas and the New Year like the English Premier League.

The initiative has proved a big hit with the public attracting fans en masse to stadiums.

But the worst was reserved for the game which should have been the highlight of the Boxing Day fixture list in Italy between title-chasing Napoli and Inter Milan at the San Siro.

An Inter supporter was killed after being struck by a car amid brawling between rival fans before the game with tensions high on the pitch after Koulibaly was repeatedly subjected to monkey chants.

Napoli asked for the match to be halted, without success, and the team finished with nine men as Koulibaly and Lorenzo Insigne were both sent off late on.

Substitute Lautaro Martinez struck in the 91st minute to give Inter a 1-0 victory, a result that meant Napoli failed to capitalize on Juventus dropping points in a 2-2 draw at Atalanta.

Inter insisted that the club has "always said no to any form of discrimination”, but tensions are now running high going into the final round of matches before a three-week winter break in Italy.

Inter has been ordered to play two matches behind closed doors and another game with its North Stand closed.

 

In favor of a pause

 

On Friday, Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said he was in favor of a pause in Serie A fixtures in the wake of the Inter supporter’s death.

"I would give a strong signal even going as far as a break in matches to allow time for fruitful reflection for those who participate," Conte told an end-of-year press conference in Rome.

"However, I will let the competent authorities decide."

Conte also deplored as "very serious" the monkey noises directed at Koulibaly.

As for second-placed Napoli, five points clear of Inter despite the ill-tempered defeat, it hosts Bologna without Koulibaly.

The Senegalese defender will serve a two-match ban for his sending off, after seeing a second yellow card for sarcastically applauding the referee.

Insigne is also suspended while captain Marek Hamsik is expected to miss the game with a thigh injury he sustained against Inter.

 

Juve faces Samp test

 

Unbeaten Juventus faces a tricky test in its final game of 2018 as it hosts in-form Sampdoria, in fifth, with the Genoa club looking for a fourth consecutive league win.

The seven-time reigning champion dropped points just twice this season, being held by Genoa at home and Atalanta midweek.

Ronaldo will start today’s game after coming off the bench to score a late equalizer as 10-man Juventus salvaged a draw in Bergamo to move nine points clear of Napoli.

But Sampdoria striker Fabio Quagliarella will be looking to test himself against Ronaldo, having scored 11 goals this season, including nine in the past eight games.

Lazio, in fourth, hosts Europa League hopeful Torino, with AC Milan, which has slipped to sixth, desperate for a win at home against struggling SPAL.

Milan's push for a top-four finish took a hit as Gennaro Gattuso's side was held to an uneventful 0-0 draw at struggling Frosinone.

The seven-time European champion has now failed to score in four consecutive league games for the first time since 1984.

"Three days ago we were one point from our Scudetto, which is the Champions League," said Gattuso.

"Mistakes happen, the important thing is to remedy them and make yourself available again. I think it's a mental issue ... fear has taken over."

Roma, in seventh but just four points off the Champions League places, travels to promoted Parma looking to build on its 3-1 win over Sassuolo.

Elsewhere bottom club Chievo will be targeting its first top-flight win when it hosts Frosinone, just above it in the table.

Fixtures (all times GMT):

Today (Saturday): Juventus vs. Sampdoria (1130), Chievo vs. Frosinone, Empoli vs. Inter Milan, Genoa vs. Fiorentina, Lazio vs. Torino, Parma vs. AS Roma, Sassuolo vs. Atalanta, Udinese vs. Cagliari (all 1400), Napoli vs. Bologna (1700), AC Milan vs. SPAL (1930)

 

 

   
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Resource: AFP
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