Fiorentina racism row as Italian club's troubles grow ahead of trip to Hearts

Fiorentina are embroiled in controversy ahead of Thursday’s trip to Edinburgh to face Hearts in the Europa Conference League.

The Italians are wrestling with poor form on the field and have also called on the country’s government to intervene after a racism row at Atalanta on Sunday.

Under head coach Vincenzo Italiano, Fiorentina have managed just one win in their last ten games in all competitions after losing 1-0 at Atalanta. They sit 11th in Serie A as pressure begins to increase on Italiano, who only signed a new contract in June this year.

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They are also bottom of Conference League Group A on goal difference after failing to win any of their first two matches in the section. They opened with a surprise 1-1 draw at home to Latvian champions RFS before a 3-0 defeat at Istanbul Basaksehir in their last European outing.

Fiorentina therefore travel to Scotland needing a result against Hearts at Tynecastle Park. However, they are also dealing with another major issue after accusing Atalanta fans of racist taunts.

Fiorentina officials left Bergamo on Sunday evening outraged at chants from home supporters aimed at owner Rocco Commisso. Fiorentina’s director general Joe Barone demanded government action after singing from Atalanta locals mocked Commisso’s southern Italian origins.

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In Italy, comments against anyone from the south of the country is as serious as racially abusing black people. It is known as territorial discrimination with Italians from the traditionally more affluent north having a history of discriminating against those from the poorer south.

Commisso was born in the southern Italian region of Calabria but moved to New York as a child and is now a millionaire businessman. Barone, also an Italian-American, released a statement condemning the Atalanta support. “Today we were witness to a shameful episode, not from an individual but from an entire stand," he said.

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Fiorentina have growing concerns ahead of their trip to Hearts.

"We fought racism in America and today in Italy we have an unacceptable situation. Not only the league must intervene but also CONI [Italy's Olympic committee] and the government. We are disgusted and we expect severe punishment. Attention must be worldwide, we can no longer pretend nothing happened.”

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Fiorentina are due to arrive in Edinburgh on Wednesday prior to the Conference League tie with Hearts at Tynecastle 24 hours later.

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