Former Serie A referee Gianpaolo Calvarese has praised the handling of an alleged racism incident in Sunday’s match between Inter Milan and Napoli.

Calvarese analyzed the situation in a column in today’s print edition of Turin-based newspaper Tuttosport, via FCInterNews. He argued that the incident was fundamentally different from incidents of fan racism.

Sunday’s Serie A match between Inter and Napoli saw an ugly episode in which Nerazzurri defender Francesco Acerbi allegedly racially abused Partenopei counterpart Juan Jesus.

An investigation is underway to determine what happened during the incident.

What is clear is that during the match, Jesus went over to referee Federico La Penna. Just before the hour mark, the Brazilian told the referee that Acerbi had used a racial slur against him.

La Penna eventually waved play on after speaking to both players.

Sunday’s alleged incident is hardly the first time that the issue of racism has been under the spotlight in Serie A.

The most high-profile episode this season saw AC Milan goalkeeper Mike Maignan receive racist chants from Udinese fans during a Serie A match away in Udine.

Last season as well, Inter striker Romelu Lukaku received racist chants from Juventus fans during a Coppa Italia tie.

Calvarase Praises La Penna For Alleged Racism Incident In Inter Napoli Clash

With these sorts of incidents, it is not just the allegedly racist behaviour that comes under scrutiny.

There are also questions of the procedures for dealing with racism.

It is the match officials who have the responsibility to handle the incidents.

And there has been criticism to the effect that referees have not taken racism – particularly racist chants from fans – seriously enough in Serie A.

But in the view of Calvarese, referee La Penna got it right with his handling of the situation on Sunday.

“In these cases, such as with dealing with blasphemous words or generic insults, all a referee can do is listen to the footballer’s side of the story,” Calvarese writes.

“(Which La Penna did very clearly and with clearly empathetic body language).”

“Then he will make a note of the incident in his match report. And then the ball passes into the court of the Sporting Judge.”

Calvarese notes that “The latter can also call on La Penna to testify, and ask for clarification on what happened.”

“Furthermore, the referee could even be called to testify even if he hadn’t written anything in his match report,” the former referee explains.

“In order to complete the picture that is painted by statements.”

Calvarese argues that “It makes not sense to compare an episode like this to derogatory or racist chants from the stands.”

“We’re talking about very different situations,” the former referee contends.