Decision: Inter Francesco Acerbi cleared of Serie A racism charge against Juan Jesus Anna Italia
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Italian Soccer Serie A

✅  The Italian Sports Judge Dr. Gerardo Mastrandrea, assisted by Stefania Ginesio and the A.I.A. Representative Carlo Moretti, during the meeting of 26 March 2024, rendered a decision on the Racism Case between Inter defender Francesco Acerbi, 36, and Napoli defender Juan Jesus. This situation happened during the Serie A Week 29 game Inter 1 – 1 Napoli on Sunday 17 March 2024.

In sum, the case was dismissed because of a lack of evidence. Acerbi won’t be penalized for the alleged racial abuse of Juan Jesus.

As reported by the Sports Judge, given the interim decision referred to in the C.U. n. 192 of 19 March 2024, with which, having read the race director’s report, investigative investigations were arranged by the Federal Prosecutor’s Office, heard if necessary
also those directly involved, in accordance with what is reported in the report
himself regarding any expressions of racial discrimination expressed by the Soc. Internazionale footballer Francesco Acerbi towards of the Soc. Napoli footballer Juan Guilherme Nunes Jesus.

  • Having seen the documentation received from the Federal Prosecutor’s Office, in particular the minutes of the hearing of the interested parties, including the video of the game clash filed by the player Juan Jesus, as well as the excerpt from the recording of the relevant Referee/VAR Room conversations.
  • Having consulted the match director on the events on the pitch; Considered necessary to premise that today’s proceedings were initiated by the national sports judge in accordance with articles. 65, 66 and 68 CGS, therefore on the basis of the findings of the official documents and in particular of what is reported in the match director’s report regarding the events on the pitch in the 13th minute of the second half of the match, punctually represented by the Referee himself, who reported in particular: what was reported to him by the footballer Juan Jesus regarding the alleged allegations offensive expressions of racial discrimination by the footballer Francesco Acerbi; the full availability expressed by the Referee himself for any possible and consequent decision; the interruption of the game in order to allow clarification between the players; the recovery of the game finally (after an interruption that lasted about a minute and a half seconds) following the confrontation between the players and not having expressed the footballer Juan Jesus has no dissent in this regard;
  • It was noted that the sequence of events on the field, reconstructed on the basis of the official documents, with the help of the Match Director and in any case visible in
    video, necessarily starting from the game clash and the act of utterance of some words by Acerbi towards Juan Jesus is certainly compatible with the expression of direct offenses, moreover not blatantly (i.e. in such a way as not to be perceived by the other players on the pitch, by the match officials or by the representatives of the Prosecutor’s Office on board the playing area), by the Inter player, and not ignored in their offensive and threatening tenor by the same “offending”, whose discriminatory content, however, without that for this reason the good faith of the Soc. Napoli player is called into question, appears to have been perceived by the player alone
    “offended” (Juan Jesus), therefore without the support of any external evidentiary evidence, be it audio, video or even testimonial;



This is how Napoli Club responded to the decision.  Here is also the statement made by Juan Jesus.

With regard to what happened during the recent match between Inter and Napoli, and the subsequent decision taken by the sports judge, Juan Jesus and his legal representatives have issued the following statement:

“I have read several times and with great disappointment the decision of the sports judge, who felt there was no evidence that I was the victim of a racist insult during the match between Inter and Napoli on 17 March. While respecting the decision, it is one I find difficult to comprehend and it leaves me feeling very bitter.

Quite honestly I am crestfallen by such a serious incident in which my only mistake was that I dealt with it ‘as a gentleman’, deciding not to interrupt an important game, with all the inconvenience that would have caused the spectators watching the match. I did so believing that such an attitude would have been respected, and perhaps taken as an example.

Following this decision, I imagine that anyone else finding themselves in a similar situation to mine will act in a very different manner, in order to protect themselves and to curb the disgrace of racism, which, sadly, we are struggling to rid ourselves of.

I do not feel in any way protected by a decision which both admits that “there was certainly evidence of the insult” and maintains there is no certainty that it was of a discriminatory nature, which only I perceived “in good faith”.

I really do not understand how “go away negro, you’re just a negro” can be considered to be certainly offensive but not discriminatory.

I do not understand all the commotion that evening if it really was “just an insult”, for which Acerbi himself felt the need to apologise, the referee decided to notify VAR, the match was suspended for over a minute and his team-mates hurried to speak to me.

I cannot fathom why Acerbi only started to change his version of the events the following day while with the national team, instead of denying it immediately after the match, when it actually happened.

I didn’t expect it to end like this. I fear – and I hope I am wrong – that this could set a serious precedent for justifying certain behaviour after the event.

I sincerely hope that this (for me) sad matter can help the world of football to reflect on an issue that is both serious and urgent.”

Juan Jesus