A hockey player has been banned for life from Italy's national team after repeatedly shouting racist slurs at a rival skater during a league game, hockey officials said Wednesday.
Daniele Veggiato, a forward for the top hockey league's Alleghe team, was banned from "all future activities of the national teams" after a match against Cortina on Monday during which he insulted rival defender Luca Zandonella, the Italian Federation of Ice Sports said in a statement.
Zandonella's father is Italian and his mother is from Mauritius. During the game, Veggiato repeatedly addressed the 18-year-old Zandonella in Italian with slurs, said Franz Sinn, the head of the federation's hockey section.
The lifetime ban is largely symbolic since Veggiato, 27, hasn't played with the national team since 2003 and is not on Italy's roster for the Turin Winter Olympics in February. But hockey officials said the ban was significant.
"He's not worthy of wearing the jersey of the Azzurri," Sinn said.
In addition to the ban, Veggiato was expelled from the rink during the match and will serve a five-match suspension for upcoming league games.
"After the match he apologized (to Zandonella) and he did well, but this didn't change our decision," Sinn said. "We have already seen this kind of escalation in soccer and we cannot accept it."
Although the case involved a sport which has a relatively 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 incidents in the country's most popular game, the AP reports.
Negotiations are underway on the use of airfields in Cuba, Venezuela and Algeria. South Africa, Syria and Egypt are likely to join the list