Acerbi racist probe dropped due to lack of evidence

AFP , Tuesday 26 Mar 2024

Italy's football federation (FIGC) on Tuesday dropped a probe into alleged racist comments made by Inter Milan's Italian international Francesco Acerbi to Napoli's Brazilian defender Juan Jesus due to lack of evidence.

Francesco Acerbi
Napoli's Giacomo Raspadori, left, jumps for the ball with Inter Milan's Francesco Acerbi during the Serie A football match between Inter Milan and Napoli at the San Siro Stadium, in Milan, Italy, Sunday, March 17, 2024. Photo: AP


Jesus had initially played down the incident following Napoli's 1-1 draw at Inter Milan earlier this month saying "what happens on the pitch, stays on the pitch" after accepting Acerbi's on-field apology for unspecified insults.

The FIGC said that "considering that the minimum level of reasonable certainty as to the discriminatory content of the offense committed has not been reached, it was decided not to apply the sanctions".

Acerbi, 32, faced a possible 10-match suspension which would end his season with Inter and could have ruled him out of the Euros which start on June 14.

"The discriminatory content, without calling into question the good faith (of Juan Jesus), seems to have been perceived only by the offended player, without the support of any external proof, whether audio, video or even testimony," the FIGC statement added.

Jesus, 32, had initially explained that Acerbi "realised that he had gone too far" and apologised to him.

The next day, Acerbi joined Italy's training camp ahead of two friendlies after giving his version of events to his Azzurri teammates and coach Luciano Spalletti "on the alleged racist remark".

That sparked an angry reaction from Jesus on Instagram: "I thought that the incident was done with on the pitch and frankly I was hoping not to have to come back to something so despicable.

"However today I read Acerbi's comments which conflict completely with what happened, with what he himself said on the pitch which is backed up by video footage of him asking me for forgiveness.

"I'm not having it, racism is going to be fought here and now."

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