Serie A clubs have called on fans to support them in an anti-racism drive after admitting: "We have a serious problem."

Several matches in Italy's top flight have been marred by instances of racist abuse, with Inter's Romelu Lukaku and Brescia forward Mario Balotelli among the high-profile victims this season.

The incidents have prompted public discussion of the issue and, following talks with the league and with the Italian Football Federation (FIGC), Serie A clubs addressed supporters.

The 20 teams released a letter together on Friday, pleading with fans to recognise they cannot wait for racism to "magically disappear".

It read: "We have to publicly recognise that we have a serious problem with racism. It's a problem that we have not done enough to combat over the years.

"Images of players being racially abused in Italian football have been viewed and discussed all around the world this season and that shames us all.

"No individual should ever be subjected to racist abuse - inside or outside of football - and we can no longer stay silent on this issue or wait for it to magically disappear.

"Driven by the clubs, positive conversations have been held in recent weeks with Lega Serie A, FIGC and international experts on how to tackle and eradicate this issue from the game.

"We, the undersigned clubs, are united by our desire for serious change, and Lega Serie A has stated its intention to lead the way by delivering a comprehensive and robust Serie A anti-racism policy, stricter new laws and regulations and a plan for educating those within the game about the scourge of racism.

"We don't have any more time to waste. We must now act with speed, with purpose and with unity, and we call on you, the fans, to support us in this vitally important endeavour."

England paceman Jofra Archer described the racist abuse he suffered in the Test series opener against New Zealand as "a real shame".

Archer was targeted by a fan during England's heavy loss to New Zealand in the first Test in Mount Maunganui.

The 24-year-old is set to be swiftly back in action, with the second Test starting in Hamilton on Friday.

"The first thing I want to say about what happened towards the end of the Test at Mount Maunganui is that I'm over it," Archer told the Daily Mail.

"I've left what happened at the ground and I've moved on. I should also say it was just one person who was shouting stuff.

"But I found the incident a real shame. When you come to another country, you half expect fans to have a go at your cricket. If someone wants to shout at me and tell me I'm bowling badly, that's fine. I may not agree but it's fine. It's part of the experience of being a touring cricketer.

"To hear racism, though – that's another matter. There is no time or place for it in any walk of life, let alone cricket. It's just not called for."

Archer, who finished with disappointing figures of 1-107 in an innings defeat in the series opener, is eager for England to bounce back in the second Test.

"I don't want to go into the details of what was said but I know what I heard," he said. "I thought members of the crowd around the guy might have pulled him up because I could hear him from the pitch as I was walking off."

He added: "Now my only goal is to make sure we finish this series on a high because we were all disappointed with the result in the first Test."

Brescia striker Mario Balotelli has criticised the "idiots" who racially abused him over the weekend but holds no grudges towards Hellas Verona.

Balotelli kicked a ball into the stands and threatened to walk off the pitch after being subjected to monkey noises during the Serie A match at Stadio Marcantonio Bentegodi on Sunday.

The referee brought play to a halt and followed protocol, with a prepared statement read over the public address system, as players from both sides persuaded Balotelli to play on.

Serie A has since enforced a one-match partial stadium closure while Verona have banned the leader of their ultras for 11 years, despite head coach Ivan Juric claiming no racist chanting took place.

Balotelli reserved his anger for the individuals responsible for the abuse.

"I didn't accuse Verona, I didn't accuse the Verona curva, I accused the few idiots who did it. I heard them," Balotelli told SportMediaset programme Le Iene.

"It wasn't two or three, because I heard them from the pitch. If I don't react, nothing happens. It's not a mistake, it's a serious matter.

"I tell the truth, the Verona stadium and the Verona fans are also nice to me, with their banter. But if you want to distract a player, you can do it in a thousand ways. Not like this. This is not good."

Balotelli, who scored for Brescia in the 2-1 defeat, said the treatment was particularly hurtful as his daughter had been watching on television.

"It makes it three times worse," he said. "It's already happened to her. You can't insult a child with words like that. Education and respect come from us adults.

"I'm not saying that I am different from the other players who have had the same noises and the same howls, but the problem is that I am Italian, and I want to be back in the national team."

Serie A has confirmed a one-match partial stadium closure for Hellas Verona after supporters racially abused Brescia's Mario Balotelli, while the club have banned their head ultra for 11 years after defending the discriminatory chants.

Balotelli kicked the ball into the stands and threatened to walk off the pitch in the second half of his side's 2-1 defeat at Stadio Marcantonio Bentegodi on Sunday after hearing monkey chants.

The referee brought play to a halt before following protocol, with a statement read out in an attempt to resolve the situation, and Balotelli was persuaded to play on, later scoring Brescia's goal.

But Verona coach Ivan Juric subsequently insisted there was no racist chanting, while the club's president claimed he did not hear any abuse, and Luca Castellini – the head of their ultras – was involved in a controversial radio interview.

In the conversation, Castellini said the racial element was only "in [Balotelli's] own head", that Balotelli cannot be considered "completely Italian" and the fans' chants were to "make fun" of the striker, rather than racially abuse him.

Serie A's disciplinary commission on Tuesday confirmed the closure of the Poltrone Est stand by way of punishment, opting against more severe sanctions because the chants only came from that sector.

The confirmation of the punishment came shortly after Verona released a statement condemning Castellini's comments and barring him from attending matches until June 30, 2030 for "expressions seriously contrary to those that distinguish the ethical principles and values of our club".

Brescia striker Mario Balotelli says those who deny he was racially abused during Sunday's Serie A match at Hellas Verona are not "real men".

Balotelli kicked the ball angrily towards Verona supporters early in the second half after hearing abuse, before threatening to walk off the pitch.

The referee brought play to a halt before following protocol, with a statement read out to the crowd in an attempt to resolve the issue.

Balotelli was persuaded to stay on and see out the game by team-mates and Verona players, with the former Manchester City and Inter Milan striker going on to score a stunning late goal in Brescia's 2-1 defeat at Stadio Marcantonio Bentegodi.

Speaking after the game, Verona's head coach Ivan Juric and president Maurizio Setti claimed they heard no abuse directed at Balotelli, with the former stating: "I'm not afraid to say it: today, there was nothing, no racist booing."

Alongside a video showing his reaction to the abuse and his goal on Instagram, Balotelli wrote: "Thanks to all the colleagues on and off the field for the solidarity expressed toward me and all of the messages received from fans. A heartfelt thanks. You've shown yourself to be real men, not like those who deny the evidence."

Balotelli also reposted a video taken by a fan of him being abused, and the Italy international wrote: "To the 'people' in this end who made the monkey noises: shame on you. Shame on you. Shame on you in front of your children, wives, parents, relatives, friends and acquaintances…shame."

The result leaves Brescia in the relegation zone, with the club announcing after the game they had sacked head coach Eugenio Corini.

Hellas Verona president Maurizio Setti says he did not hear any racist abuse aimed towards Brescia striker Mario Balotelli during Sunday's Serie A clash.

Balotelli kicked the ball angrily towards Verona supporters early in the second half after hearing abuse, before threatening to walk off the pitch.

The referee brought play to a halt before following protocol, with a statement read out to the crowd in an attempt to resolve the issue.

Balotelli was persuaded to stay on and see out the game by team-mates and Verona players, with the former Manchester City and Inter Milan striker going on to score a stunning late goal in Brescia's 2-1 defeat at Stadio Marcantonio Bentegodi.

Setti insists he did not hear any of the abuse, and he rejects accusations that Verona supporters are racist.

"We did not hear anything," Setti told reporters. "I arrived in Verona eight years ago and immediately saw that the Verona fans are ironic, but absolutely not racist. When Balotelli made his debut here for AC Milan six years ago there were episodes of racism, and we condemned it. We have always done.

"It is wrong to generalise and speak for all 20,000 fans when a couple of people have said something. If there are two or three people who have said something, we are ready to take action against them because we condemn any episode of this type.

"But to speak of Verona as we were 30 years ago is wrong. We are a club that only has sport in our real DNA. There are many players of colour who wear the Gialloblu from the youth team to the first.

"Racism is a path that doesn't exist for us and Verona is not a correct position for generalisations. In eight years of my presidency, you could confirm this. The attitude of our fans is absolutely correct."

Verona coach Ivan Juric shares Setti's view, earlier telling Sky Sport Italia: "I'm not afraid to say it: today, there was nothing, no racist booing.

"There was a lot of booing and teasing of a great player, but there was nothing really racist today."

Hellas Verona head coach Ivan Juric insists fans did not racially abuse Brescia striker Mario Balotelli in Sunday's Serie A match.

Balotelli kicked the ball into the stands and threatened to walk off the pitch in the second half of his side's 2-1 defeat at Stadio Marcantonio Bentegodi.

The referee brought play to a halt before following protocol, with a statement read out in an attempt to resolve the issue.

After appeals from his team-mates and Verona players, Balotelli decided to stay on the pitch and see out the game.

The striker, who has had a fractious relationship with Verona fans, went on to score a stunning goal five minutes from time and there were chants of support for the player from large sections of the crowd after the initial incident.

Croatian Juric, a former Genoa player and coach who has been subjected to discriminatory chants in his time in Italy, admits there is a serious problem with racism in the country but is adamant the taunts aimed at Balotelli were not of that nature.

"I'm not afraid to say it: today, there was nothing, no racist booing," Juric said to Sky Sport Italia.

"There was a lot of booing and teasing of a great player, but there was nothing really racist today.

"I am Croatian, and I've often heard 's***** gypsy', so chants like this and racist insults make me sick. The whole of Italy is moving in this direction, but there was nothing at all today."

When asked why Balotelli reacted in such a way if he had not been racially abused, Juric replied: "You'll have to ask him. I only heard teasing, nothing else.

"I have no problem reporting allegations if there are any, even those against our own fans. This is something that can't be accepted in 2019. But, today, there was nothing at all.

"I repeat, I am the first to condemn racism, but today I only heard a lot of jeering of a great player.

"We're not talking about racism, because that's a lie. We're not creating a case where there isn't one."

In his post-match news conference, Juric added: "I think, on a human level, being racist is an absolute low. In this case, I don't think anything has happened. I spoke with the fourth official, too.

"There was only teasing of a great player. I don't want to say anything against Mario. It may have happened to him elsewhere."

Mario Balotelli almost walked off the pitch during Brescia's Serie A visit to Hellas Verona on Sunday after being subjected to racial abuse.

The 29-year-old kicked the ball into the stands and started to walk off during the second half of his side's 2-1 defeat at Stadio Marcantonio Bentegodi.

The referee brought play to a halt before following protocol, with a statement read out in an attempt to resolve the issue.

After appeals from his team-mates and Verona players, Balotelli decided to stay on the pitch and see out the game.

Chants of support for Balotelli from large parts of the crowd were heard after the incident.

The former Manchester City and AC Milan striker, who has historically had a fractious relationship with Hellas Verona supporters, went on to score in the 85th minute.

VAR technology could be used to weed out racists during matches, the head of Italy's football federation has proposed.

President Gabriele Gravina said the federation [FIGC] would look for support from authorities to improve video technology with a view to pinpointing offenders.

The VAR – or Video Assistant Referee – system has become a major component of modern football, but only in helping referees reach correct decisions on the pitch.

According to Gravina, the same equipment could be deployed to closely monitor the stands at matches.

Although closed circuit television is already often in use to observe behaviour of fans, Gravina appeared to indicate a higher grade of kit should be used.

He said, speaking to Sky Sport24: "If it is one, two or 10 people – action must be taken. Companies today can identify those responsible through technology. We have an experiment in mind that should give great results and we will talk about that soon.

"I have no intention – and nor does the world of football – to let down my guard. It astonishes me that some chants are sometimes heard and other times not: we need to understand the reasons, this isn't normal.

"We will use VAR against the 'buu' [the noise regarded as racist in Italy]."

Gravina suggested Bulgarian Football Union [BFU] chief Borislav Mihaylov may have been treated harshly after he resigned in the wake of Monday's match against England in Sofia, where several home fans aimed racist abuse at visiting players and some were seen making Nazi salutes.

Mihaylov stepped down on Tuesday after being told he must go by the Bulgarian prime minister, with the government threatening to pull funding from the BFU.

Gravina also said any perception of Italy as "the country of the maximum concentration of racial discrimination" had been disproved.

Instead, Gravina said: "It is a widespread phenomenon, to be condemned powerfully and throughout the continent."

He called on government authorities to collaborate with sporting bodies to fight racism, and said "improving the technological aspect" of battling the problem should be a priority, with support from police and political allies.

"We can win the battle if we are united and focused on a common goal – removing these people from our competition," Gravina added.

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