Italian federation chief says VAR could tackle racism

Italy could attempt to crack down on racism by using equipment equivalent to VAR technology, federation chief Gabriele Gravina has proposed.

Football's VAR system in action.   -  Getty Images

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.

'Action must be taken'

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.

Related | Bulgaria police holds six over racist abuse

"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.

'Widespread phenomenon'

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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