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Football: Torino play down Pogba's racism claims

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Serie A club Torino on Monday played down claims by Juventus midfielder Paul Pogba that he was the target of racist abuse by Riccardo Meggiorini during the Turin derby.

Juventus won Sunday's match 2-0 thanks to late goals from Arturo Vidal and Claudio Marchisio to restore their 11-point lead on Napoli and leave them needing just one point from their remaining four games to claim a second successive Scudetto.

However reports on Monday claimed Pogba had complained about being "racially insulted" by Meggiorini.

La Gazzetta dello Sport sports daily said Pogba complained to the referee at the end of a tumultuous first half after being on the end of "a series of racist insults" from the player.

Meggiorini was quoted as saying after the game: "Yes there were insults but they were not racist in nature. It was a normal insult, like you hear several times during football games.

"Pogba shouldn't be complaining every time someone says something to him. I also get insulted but I say nothing because in football that is just what goes on.

"For me there's no issue."

Torino coach Giampietro Ventura said the words allegedly used against Pogba -- "dirty black" -- were "not a particularly offensive insult, if Meggiorini did indeed say it".

"I told him (Meggiorini) to apologise to the referee and to the player and that's what he did," he added.

"It's something he said in the heat of the moment. It started on the pitch and it should end there."

Racism, which is no stranger to Italian football and stadiums, came under the spotlight in January when AC Milan star Kevin-Prince Boateng led a pitch walk-off during a friendly when he was targeted by racist chanting.

It also sparked debate within football and the sport's authorities about how best to tackle the problem, with a number of high-profile incidents across Europe.

Juventus, who were fined 30,000 euros ($39,000, £25,000) by league disciplinary officials two weeks ago after their fans racially abused rival players, have yet to make any official statement.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130429/football-torino-play-down-pogbas-racism-claims