A sports justice court has postponed a ruling on a one-game stadium ban for fans of Serie A side AC Milan imposed for offensive chants, the ANSA news agency reported on Friday.
The club was backed by rival supporters in an appeal against the ban which would have barred spectators for Milan’s game at the Giuseppe Meazza against Udinese on October 19.
Milan fans took part in offensive chants at last Sunday’s game at Juventus directed towards Serie A rivals Napoli.
A sports judge based the ban on anti-racism rules Italian clubs adopted in August following guidelines from European body UEFA.
The stadium closure was to follow an earlier ban after Milan fans chanted similar insults during a game against Napoli. In that case, the ban only affected the home-fan sector for a game against Sampdoria.
It is believed the court will rule on the case after a meeting between the league of professional clubs (Lega Serie A) and the Italian football federation (FIGC), which next week will address the case and possibly introduce a distinction between racism and “territorial discrimination.”
“I think it is legitimate to urge guidelines that distinguish expressions of intolerance, prejudice and contempt from those with ironical and non-offensive tone,” Sports Minister Graziano Delrio was quoted as saying.
Lega boss Maurizio Beretta and FIGC president Giancarlo Abete, along with the presidents of Milan, Juventus and Lazio, also expressed similar views.
Diehard fans from various clubs, including Inter Milan, Juventus and Lazio, have sided with Milan and threatened similarly offensive chants in order to cause the closure of their stadiums.
Several supporters’ websites this week condemned racist abuse but said they should not be compared with chants that stress long-existing rivalry among clubs.
Roma, Lazio and Inter have had home-fan sectors closed over racial abuse episodes since the start of the season.
Sports authorities now seem inclined to reconsider punishments, to differentiate between forms of abuse while trying to crack down on unruly fans.