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Serie A’s 20 clubs acknowledge ‘serious problem with racism’

Internazionale v Lazio - Italian Serie A

MILAN, ITALY - SEPTEMBER 25: Romelu Lukaku of Internazionale during the Italian Serie A match between Internazionale v Lazio at the San Siro on September 25, 2019 in Milan Italy (Photo by Mattia Ozbot/Soccrates/Getty Images)

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MILAN (AP) All 20 Serie A clubs have issued a joint statement “to publicly recognize that we have a serious problem with racism.”

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The acknowledgment comes amid an Italian league marred by constant episodes of racist chants and discriminatory behavior.

The clubs say, “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.”

Racist chants have recently been aimed at Romelu Lukaku, Franck Kessie, Dalbert Henrique, Miralem Pjanic, Ronaldo Vieira, Kalidou Koulibaly and Mario Balotelli. All the players targeted — except for Pjanic, who is Bosnian — are black.

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The clubs say, “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.”

The teams add “positive conversations” have been held in recent weeks with the Italian football federation and international experts “on how to tackle and eradicate this issue from the game.”

Serie A CEO Luigi De Siervo says the league is “ready to lead this campaign.”