(JTA) – New guidelines issued by the Italian Interior Ministry govern how police may halt or interrupt a soccer match because of racist or anti-Semitic behavior by fans or on the pitch.
The guidelines were issued following a meeting this week of the ministry’s watchdog commission on sporting events that dealt with the “despicable phenomenon of racism” noted recently at some matches.
Italy’s police chief and leaders of the Italian Soccer Federation took part in the meeting.
The guidelines state that referees must alert the public security chief at the stadium of any incidents of “racism, intolerance or anti-Semitism.” The state prosecutor’s office may also be notified.
"The director of the public order service has the sole responsibility for suspending the match," a statement issued after the meeting, spelling out the guidelines, said. "The director, in the presence of particularly serious expressions of racism or intolerance, will decide in all cases on the non-continuation of the match or its suspension on a temporary basis to allow warnings to be issued to supporters over the public address system."
The guidelines were issued in the wake of mounting cases of anti-Semitic and racist behavior of hard-core fans of some teams that have resulted in fines and warnings by European soccer authorities.
"There has been a further drop in the number of violent incidents, while manifestations of racism and intolerance are sporadic and always limited to a restricted group," the statement said.