FIFA president lambasts Italian soccer for ‘hiding’ racism

Inter Milan's Belgian forward Romelu Lukaku, right celebrates with Italian head coach Antonio Conte after scoring during the match against AC Milan on Saturday. (AFP/File)
Updated 24 September 2019

FIFA president lambasts Italian soccer for ‘hiding’ racism

  • Gianni Infantino: Identify fans responsible of racism and throw them in jail

ROME: FIFA President Gianni Infantino lambasted Italian soccer authorities for “hiding the truth” about racism in a scathing assessment Tuesday following a complete lack of punishment after three cases of discriminatory chants during the four opening rounds of Serie A.

Three black players — Inter Milan’s Romelu Lukaku, AC Milan’s Franck Kessie, and Fiorentina’s Dalbert Henrique — have been targeted by racist chants but no sanctions have been handed out by the Italian league, federation or police.

“I don’t see why we have to hide the truth, not talk about what happens or say that it is not serious. No, that’s not how you go about it,” Infantino said in an interview with Sky Italia. “It’s unacceptable, absurd and surprising.

“It’s upsetting, because Italy is a country that people love, where you can live and eat well, where there’s culture,” added Infantino, who is the son of Italian immigrants to Switzerland. “This is supposed to be a modern, civil, polite country. And I think it’s moving in the wrong direction.”

Infantino suggested identifying fans responsible of racism and throwing them in jail, calling on the Italian federation to work with its clubs and local police.

Likewise, the Italian government’s new sports minister vowed to eliminate racism “with more severe and efficient sanctions.”

“I will dedicate myself toward eliminating it from stadiums during my mandate — even at the cost of making unpopular decisions,” Vincenzo Spadafora, the minister, told Spanish newspaper El Pais.

“The time has come for everyone to assume responsibility: Institutions, politicians, federations and fans,” Spadafora added. “Soon I will meet with all of the sports representatives to share with them a significant change, with more severe and efficient sanctions.”

Atalanta’s 2-2 draw with Fiorentina on Sunday was suspended briefly during the first half due to chants aimed at Dalbert.

However, the Italian league’s judge announced Monday that he has yet to decide whether Atalanta warrants punishment. Judge Gerardo Mastrandrea said in his weekly disciplinary report that Dalbert needs to be interviewed before his decision is made.

Following FIFA’s “three-step process” for handling racism inside stadiums, referee Daniele Orsato ordered a warning to be read over the stadium’s loudspeaker that the match would not resume until the chants ceased.

The FIFA process requires the referee to briefly pause a match at the first hint of discriminatory chants and request an announcement over the stadium public address system asking fans to stop. If the chanting persists, the referee can suspend the match and order the teams into the changing rooms until it stops. If that doesn’t work, the referee can stop the match definitively.

While the FIFA process is straightforward it has rarely been implemented in Serie A.

“The problem is, we have some laws stipulating that if it’s a concrete number of people we stop the match. If it’s 2, 3 persons or 10 persons then we cannot stop the match,” Danilo Filacchione, the Italian football federation’s international relations director, told The Associated Press in Ljubljana, Slovenia, after attending a UEFA meeting.

“But the clubs are also fighting,” Filacchione added. “We are doing our best.”


Federer tops list of world’s highest-paid athletes

Updated 31 May 2020

Federer tops list of world’s highest-paid athletes

  • The bulk of Federer’s haul in the past 12 months was from appearance fees and endorsement deals
  • Next on the list was Portuguese football star Cristiano Ronaldo at $105 million, $60 million in salary

NEW YORK: Roger Federer topped the 2020 Forbes magazine list of highest-paid global athletes announced Friday, leading the lineup for the first time with pre-tax earnings of $106.3 million (95.5 million euros).
The Swiss tennis legend, a men’s record 20-time Grand Slam singles champion, becomes the first player from his sport atop the annual list since its 1990 debut, rising from fifth in 2019.
Federer’s haul over the past 12 months included $100 million from appearance fees and endorsement deals plus $6.3 million in prize money. His previous best showing was second in 2013.
“His brand is pristine, which is why those that can afford to align with him clamor to do so,” University of Southern California sports business professor David Carter told the magazine.
The ongoing coronavirus pandemic that shut down sports worldwide caused the first decline since 2016 in the total income of the world’s 100 top-paid athletes, a 9% dip from last year to $3.6 billion. Another plunge is expected next year from the shutdown.
Portuguese football star Cristiano Ronaldo was second on the list at $105 million, $60 million in salary and $45 million from endorsements, with Argentine football hero Lionel Messi third on $104 million, $32 million of that from sponsorship deals.
Messi and Ronaldo, who have traded the top spot three of the past four years, saw their combined incomes dip $28 million from last year due to salary cuts when European clubs halted play in March.
Brazilian footballer Neymar was fourth overall on $95.5 million, $25 million from endorsements, while NBA star LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers was fifth on $88.2 million, $60 million of that from endorsements.
NBA star Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors was sixth on $74.4 million with former teammate Kevin Durant next on $63.9 million.
Tiger Woods, the reigning Masters champion and a 15-time major winner, was eighth on the list and tops among golfers at $62.3 million, all but $2.3 million from sponsor deals.
Woods topped the Forbes list a record 12 times before an infidelity scandal helped end his run.
Two NFL quarterbacks rounded out the top 10 with Kirk Cousins ninth at $60.5 million and Carson Wentz 10th on $59.1 million.
The top 100 featured athletes from 21 nations and 10 sports. More NBA players made the list than those from any other sport at 35, but 31 NFL players made the cut, up from 19 from last year, and they pulled down the most money of any league, aided by finishing the season before the deadly virus outbreak.
Major League Baseball, whose start to the 2020 campaign was postponed by the virus outbreak, put only one player on the list after 15 in 2019. The lone MLB player was Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw, who was 57th at $27.3 million with only $750,000 from endorsements.
Spanish footballer Sergio Ramos, the Real Madrid captain, was last among the 100 on $21.8 million, including $3 million in endorsements.
Two women, tennis stars Naomi Osaka of Japan and Serena Williams of the United States, made the list, the most females on it since 2016. Osaka ranked 29th overall on $37.4 million ($34 million in endorsements), four spots ahead of Williams with $36 million ($32 million in endorsements).
Federer, 38, boasts the biggest sponsorship lineup among active athletes with Moet & Chandon and Barilla among those paying from $3 to $30 million to link him with their brands.
Federer, who spent a record 310 weeks as world number one, reached 18 of 19 Grand Slam finals from 2005-2010.
Only Woods has joined Federer in making $100 million in sponsor deals in a single year.
Federer’s newest deal is with Swiss running shoe On, where he is an investor, but several sponsors have been with him for more than a decade, including Rolex, Credit Suisse, Mercedes-Benz and Wilson.
A split with Nike in 2018 opened Federer to Japanese apparel brand Uniqlo’s 10-year deal worth $300 million.