ROME (AFP) - Italian football bosses should punish Roma midfielder Daniele de Rossi for allegedly calling Juventus midfielder Mario Mandzukic "a s****y gypsy" during a heated Italian Serie A clash, rights groups said on Monday.
The Associazione 21 lluglio and Popica Onlus, organisations which defend the rights of ethnic Roma and Sinti people in Italy, said de Rossi should be sanctioned as swiftly and severely as Napoli boss Maurizio Sarri was last week for homophobic abuse.
Sarri was slapped with a €20,000 (S$31,000) fine and a two-match touchline ban after calling his Inter Milan counterpart Roberto Mancini "frocio", a pejorative Italian term for homosexual, which can be translated as fag, queer or poof.
De Rossi has been accused of telling Croatia's Mandzukic to "shut up, s****y gypsy," during Roma's 1-0 defeat by the Italian champions in Turin on Sunday.
"We hope there will be as quick a reaction from the sporting authorities as there was for the fight between ... Sarri and Mancini," the associations said in a statement.
It added: "The insult issued by de Rossi to Mandzukic involved the use of improper and highly offensive language which ultimately causes damage to people in the Roma and Sinti communities and helps spread prejudices and negative stereotypes about them.
"The term 'gypsy' (zingaro in Italian) is perceived as offensive by Roma and Sinti living in our country and has acquired strongly negative overtones comparable to a racial insult such as 'negro', to cite an example."
Roma coach Luciano Spalletti claimed after the match that de Rossi had been provoked by Mandzukic's insults and had only erred in not covering his mouth with his hand.
"I will tell him to do that next time," Spalletti said.
Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri also played down the incident, saying, "players regularly trade comments with each other during games".