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Hellas Verona to be punished for racist chants during Napoli match

It seems that, as consequence of racist chants directed toward Napoli fullback Pablo Armero, Verona will be handed a suspension of their Curva - at some point in the distant future.

Paul Gilham

We'll admit it: Napoli fans are not too fond of Pablo Armero these days. He's rather poor at defense but likes getting forward - only to slow the attack and force the those up front to drop back. Armero is an extremely frustrating player, particularly when watching him week in and week out.

But the thing is, Napoli fans don't like Armero as a player, for the specific characteristics that make it clear he's not fit for a team challenging for the Champions League.

Then there's Hellas Verona. Even if you haven't been a calcio fan for long, you know of Verona's reputation. Their supporters are right-wing fascists with a tendency towards racism, with a bit of geography-ism thrown in there just for a giggle. Even if the club has made efforts to crack down on the less salubrious chants and banners coming from the Curva, the reputation remains.

So, unfortunately, it's not very surprising that Verona are in trouble for racist chants directed at Armero. It doesn't matter that the fullback contributed little to the match, and even very nicely set up a chance for Luca Toni (the Verona forward put his shot off target, of course). The Curva aren't upset with his inability to play, they're simply upset that he's black.

Yet this is being treated as a "first offense", and so the punishment, a closing of the Curva, won't occur until there's another offense (at least, that's how I understand it). Plus, Verona are intent on appealing the judgment, having put together a minute-by-minute report outlining how, when Armero is involved in the play, no discriminatory chants occur. The club is calling it a "misrepresentation" of the fans and saying it goes against the awareness they've worked so hard to raise.

I don't know whether there were chants aimed at Armero - all I could ever hear on my feed were piercing whistles. What I do know is this: a suspension of the Curva, to be taken, possibly, at some point in the future, is not an adequate punishment for racist chants. If the sporting committee finds that Verona were acting in a racist manner, they should be handed a punishment that actually prompts the club, and the ultras, to take action.

Because this "first offense" thing is nonsense.