Lazio footballer, FRANCESCO ACERBI, leaves Italy camp after allegedly racially abusing JUAN JESUS during Inter Milan's draw with Napoli

Tuesday, March 19, 2024
 – Francesco Acerbi has left the Italy national squad ahead of upcoming friendlies in the United States after he was alleged to have racially abused Napoli defender Juan Jesus.

The Inter Milan defender is accused of racially abusing Brazil international Jesus during Sunday’s 1-1 draw in Serie A, something he has denied.

Juan Jesus, who is Black, was visibly upset in the second half when he walked up to the referee, who then called over Acerbi.

In close-up television images, Juan Jesus appeared to be telling the referee that Acerbi had used a racist slur.

The Brazilian, whose late equaliser rescued a point for Napoli, can also be seen pointing to the Keep Racism Out' badge on his shirt sleeve as part of the league's anti-racism campaign.

New footage has since emerged on X, the platform previously known as Twitter, showing Acerbi seemingly telling Juan Jesus: 'I'm sorry, I'm not racist' before the pair exchange words.

The pair embraced at the end of the match and the Napoli defender did not confirm the nature of the incident.

'What happens on the field, stays on the field,' the Brazilian told DAZN.

'Acerbi apologised, he went a bit over the top with his words. He is a good guy.

'Moreover, obviously, we're adults, we can sort it out on the field. He apologised, we moved on and when the referee blows his whistle everything ends there. It's fine.'

Acerbi wasn't disciplined by referee Federico La Penna and Jesus added: 'I hope it doesn't happen again because he's an intelligent guy.'

The Italian Football Federation (FIGC) said Acerbi has explained his version of events to Italy coach Luciano Spalletti and his team-mates and it has been agreed he will take no part in games against Venezuela and Ecuador.

A statement on the FIGC website read: 'Francesco Acerbi, who arrived at the national team camp in Rome this morning, explained to head coach, Luciano Spalletti, and his team-mates his version of the alleged racist expression reported by Juan Jesus during Inter vs Napoli last night, as required by the internal policy of Club Italia.

'From the Nerazzurri defender’s report, in waiting for what happened to be reconstructed in compliance with the autonomy of sporting justice, it emerged that there was no defamatory, denigrating or racist intent on his part.

'However, it was agreed that Acerbi should be left out of the squad for the next two friendlies scheduled in the United States in order to let things settle for the national team and the player himself, who will return to his club today.

'As a result, Roma defender Gianluca Mancini, who was already part of a reserved squad list, has been called up.'

An Inter statement added: 'FC Internazionale Milano takes note of the official statement released by the FIGC in relation to the events involving Francesco Acerbi during last night’s match against Napoli, and of the fact that FIGC and Acerbi have agreed that the player will not be involved in the national team’s next two friendlies scheduled in the United States.

'FC Internazionale Milano will meet with the player as soon as possible to shed light on the exact details of what happened last night.'

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