“We must punish them in the most severe form — that is, expulsion from the stadiums,” Mr. De Siervo told reporters at a news conference hastily convened after an Italian newspaper leaked audio from a meeting in September at which he said he had asked for microphones pointed at booing fans in stadiums to be turned off so that they wouldn’t be heard on television.
Last week, Italy’s 20 Serie A clubs wrote an open letter recognizing that there was a “serious problem with racism” and that the clubs had not done enough to fight it. Racist incidents “are a reason of frustration and shame for us all,” the clubs wrote, which prompted them to work alongside Italian soccer officials to draft “new laws, and more severe regulations as well as an awareness raising campaign,” according to the letter, which added: “We don’t have time to lose.”
In response to the headline, Roma and A.C. Milan, Inter’s crosstown rival, banned Corriere dello Sport from their training facilities and from talking to their players for the rest of the year.
“Players, clubs, supporters and the media must be united in the fight against racism in football,” the clubs said in a statement. “We remain totally committed to tackling racism.”
Adam Smulevich, the co-author of a book about racism in Italian soccer, said that until now, reactions to racism had been superficial, “at every level,” even if the Serie A letter was “a step in the right direction.”
But Mr. Smulevich added that racism could only be eradicated by an across-the-board reaction, from the admonishments of fellow players, to the clubs, to journalists, who are expected to know better. Even if the content of the Corriere dello Sport article was not racist, he said, “Many just read the headlines.”
“There is an urgency to call things by their names,” Mr. Smulevich said. “The world of soccer has until now been very vague,” he added. But the fact that there had been so much controversy around the headline was a sign that awareness was growing, he said.