Italy coach Luciano Spalletti says that Francesco Acerbi denied all racism allegations, but excluding the defender is a “responsibility.”

Spalletti gave his account of the situation with the 36-year-old Inter Milan in a press conference, as reported by FCInterNews.

Defender Acerbi will not be part of the Inter squad for the current international break.

The reason is an alleged racism incident that the former Lazio and Sassuolo defender is at the heart of.

The incident in question took place during yesterday evening’s Serie A clash between Inter and Napoli.

Acerbi was involved in an argument with Napoli defender Juan Jesus. And the Napoli player told referee Federico La Penna that he had received a racist insult from his Inter counterpart.

For his part, Acerbi has denied that he used any racist language.

And Spalletti has confirmed that that is also what the Inter defender told him.

However, that does not mean that Acerbi will be part of the Italy squad for the international break.

There will naturally have to be an investigation into the matter. And before that happens, Acerbi’s status is up in the air somewhat.

Spalletti: ‘Acerbi Told Me There Was No Racism, But Exclusion A Responsibility’

Spalletti admitted that “This is not a position that I ever want to find myself in.”

“But we have a responsibility in a sport that’s very important to our nation,” the Italy coach continued.

“And, considering what has come out, it’s necessary for us to act,” Spalletti said. “Even while we wait for things to be clarified.”

“Based on what Francesco told me, there was not any incident of racism,” the coach said.

“But we have to be careful with how we act. With everything we do and say.”

Spalletti went on, “Even more so when we’re part of the national team.”

“The two hours that we’re on the pitch are important. But so are the other 22, when we wear the national team shirt.”

Spalletti continued that “It’s an enormous disappointment having to make decisions regarding episodes like these.”

“We have to be careful when we report incidents like this.”

Meanwhile, Spalletti – who has coached Juan Jesus, the player who Acerbi allegedly racially abused – at both Napoli and Roma, was asked if he had contacted the Brazilian yet.

“No,” the coach said. “I tried calling him but he currently has his phone turned off.”