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Football: Atalanta fined over banana-throwing racism row

Serie A side Atalanta have been hit with a 40,000-euro (US$55,000) fine by the Italian football federation (FIGC) on Tuesday after bananas were thrown at AC Milan defender Kevin Constant at the weekend.

TURIN: Serie A side Atalanta have been hit with a 40,000-euro (US$55,000) fine by the Italian football federation (FIGC) on Tuesday after bananas were thrown at AC Milan defender Kevin Constant at the weekend.

FIFA president Sepp Blatter had called for swift action after home fans threw two bananas and aimed racist chants at the French-born Guinean international in Bergamo on Sunday.

The incident comes just two weeks after Barcelona's Dani Alves picked up and ate a banana thrown at him from the crowd during a Spanish league game against Villarreal.

Atalanta President Antonio Percassi reportedly telephoned Milan CEO Adriano Galliani after the incident to apologise for the abuse.

And the FIGC confirmed on Tuesday that the team would be fined and that their next home game, at the start of next season, would be played with the North End (Curva Nord) of their stadium closed to fans, although that sanction has been suspended.

Blatter had said in a Twitter post on Monday: "Racism, and games stopped/abandoned due to acts of hooliganism. Each Federation needs to act. Sanctions are available & HAVE to be applied."

Part of Blatter's post was aimed at events which forced the early stoppage of a Russian Premier League game because the captain of a rival team was assaulted by fans.

In Italy, Milan coach Clarence Seedorf, a former Dutch international who was born in Surinam, on Sunday called for the banana-throwers to be banned for life.

"I hope that whoever was responsible will be banned from attending matches for life," he told Sky Sport television.

Early last year, Milan's Ghanaian international midfielder Kevin-Prince Boateng led his team off the pitch during a friendly game against lower-league opposition Pro Patria after suffering racial abuse.

His gesture was widely applauded, with Blatter calling it a "really a strong sign," but warned that walking off the pitch "can't be the solution".

Atalanta, who are reported to be trying to identify the banana-throwers, said in a statement on Monday that Percassi would also be telephoning Constant personally to apologise.

"Antonio Percassi will telephone Constant in order to officially apologise to him as well," said the statement.

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