LONDON (AP) — FIFA Vice President Jeffrey Webb condemned "deep rooted racism" in Italy on Wednesday after Mario Balotelli was racially abused while training with the national team.
A year after spearheading the strengthening of FIFA's discrimination sanctions, Webb is frustrated that some countries including Italy and Spain are not showing the commitment required to the fight against racism.
"National associations obviously really have to not just talk about zero tolerance — they have to put action behind it," Webb told The Associated Press in an interview in London. "If you look at some of the decisions that have been taken in Spain and Italy definitely that's cause for concern."
Balotelli, who is black, faced racist chants again on Wednesday morning in Italy — this time at the national team's World Cup training base in Florence.
"Unfortunately, it just shows the deep rooted racism and prejudice that exists obviously in the Italian community and society at large," said Webb, who heads FIFA's task force against discrimination. "It is a fight, it is a challenge."
And a challenge to ensure every country adopts the penalties adopted by FIFA last May, including minimum five-game bans for racist abuse by players, and point deductions or relegation for serious incidents in the stands.