Italian hockey player punished for racist slurs


ROME -- A hockey player was banned for life from Italy's national team after repeatedly shouting racist slurs at an opponent during a league game.

The punishment was largely symbolic since Daniele Veggiato hasn't played with the national team since 2003 and is not on Italy's roster for the Turin Olympics.

Veggiato, a forward for the Alleghe team, was barred from "all future activities" of the national team for insulting Cortina defenseman Luca Zandonella on Monday, the Italian Federation of Ice Sports said. Zandonella's father is Italian and his mother is from Mauritius.

During the game, Veggiato repeatedly addressed Zandonella, 18, in Italian with slurs such as "wash your face you [expletive] Negro," said Franz Sinn, the head of the federation's hockey section.

Veggiato was expelled from the rink and will serve a five-game suspension for upcoming league games. He apologized to Zandonella after the game, but the punishment will not be withdrawn, Sinn said.

"We have already seen this kind of escalation in soccer and we cannot accept it," Sinn said.

Although hockey has a minor following in Italy, national media hailed the decision as being in sharp contrast with the way soccer officials have dealt with a recent string of racist outbursts in the country's most popular sport.