ROME—Players and coaches across the top men’s soccer league in Italy had red marks painted on their faces to promote a campaign for the elimination of violence against women on Saturday.
The initiative coincided with rallies across Italy to mark the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, just as an Italian man suspected of killing his ex-girlfriend was extradited from Germany.
The slaying of 22-year-old university student Giulia Cecchettin, allegedly at the hands of her former boyfriend, sparked outrage across Italy, where on average one woman is killed every three days.
Players and coaches in the Serie A league had the red marks on their cheeks and the initiative will continue for matches on Sunday and Monday.
The slogan for the initiative translated to “a red card against violence.”
In Nice, France, French authorities detained Nice defender Youcef Atal and ordered him to stand trial next month on charges of inciting hatred after he shared an antisemitic message online, the regional prosecutor’s office said Friday.
Atal was suspended by the French soccer league for seven matches over the post last month, which came amid global tensions over the Israel-Hamas war. Nice also suspended him.
Nice authorities opened an investigation after Atal posted the message and detained him for questioning on Thursday, the prosecutor’s office said in a statement. Prosecutors ordered him to stand trial December 18 on a charge of incitement to hatred for religious reasons, it said.
He was released Friday on bail of €80,000 ($87,500) and placed under judicial supervision pending the trial. He is not allowed to leave France except for international soccer games.
The 27-year-old Atal, who also plays for Algeria’s national team, apologized after reportedly reposting and then deleting a video in which a Palestinian preacher made an antisemitic statement.
Writing on Instagram, Atal said he understood that his post was shocking to some people and said he condemns all forms of violence, “no matter where in the world.”
FIFA, meanwhile, opened disciplinary cases against Argentina and Brazil on Friday after fan violence at the Maracana Stadium delayed the start of a World Cup qualifying game.
The Argentine soccer federation was charged with crowd disturbances and the late kick off at Tuesday’s game in Rio de Janeiro.
The Brazilian federation was charged with failures of managing security at a game it organized, FIFA said.
Fights among fans broke out after the national anthems. The teams were led back to the locker rooms and the game started 27 minutes late.
“There was family of the players [there]. We were more worried about that than playing the match,” Argentina captain Lionel Messi said.
Argentina won the game, 1-0.
FIFA gave no timetable to judge the case and impose sanctions.
The teams’ next World Cup qualifying games are in September. Brazil hosts Ecuador and Argentina hosts Chile.
Brazil and Argentina could next meet at the 2024 Copa America, a tournament that will be played in the United States from June 20 to July 14.
In Berlin, the German soccer federation has had to limit comments on the Facebook page of its junior teams following a slew of racist and discriminatory comments against its Under-17 players.
The federation posted a picture of four players from the Germany U17 team, all Black, celebrating Tuesday’s 3-2 win over the United States in the round of 16 at the U17 World Cup in Indonesia.
But the post was met by a torrent of racist comments from a host of Facebook users about the players—Charles Herrmann, Almugera Kabar, Paris Brunner (all from Borussia Dortmund) and Fayssal Harchaoui (Cologne).
The federation responded by switching off comments and posting a statement of its own.
“We’re proud of the diversity in our Under-17s, who are currently playing their hearts out in Indonesia,” the federation said. “The commitment to diversity is firmly anchored in the federation’s statutes—as are the values of tolerance and respect. If you don’t share these values, please unfollow us. Discriminatory and racist comments have no place here and will be deleted accordingly. We will take legal action against offensive content.”
The Germany Under-17 team has won all its games at the World Cup so far.
Herrmann, who was player of the match against the US, told the federation’s website Thursday that the team’s unity was a major factor in its success so far.
“We’re like a family and we support each other in every situation. We believe in ourselves every second and never give up,” Herrmann said. “That can take us to the final and to the title.”
Image credits: AP