African Music

Fans’ Chants Mean Part of Stadium To Be Closed

Lecce defender Samuel Umtiti, on loan from Barcelona, was one of those targeted by the racist abuse

Lazio have been ordered to close part of their stadium for their next match after their fans directed racist abuse at two Lecce players on Wednesday.

The Curva Nord section of Stadio Olimpico in Rome will close for Sunday’s Serie A game against Empoli.

Defender Samuel Umtiti and winger Lameck Banda were subjected to racist chants from Lazio supporters during Wednesday’s game, which Lecce won 2-1.

Lazio condemned the “despicable and shameful” chants.

“Lazio fans are not racist and cannot be associated with a few individuals who seriously harm the club’s image,” the club said.

“Lazio has always opposed all forms of racism and discrimination with all the means available. The club will, as always, offer the maximum collaboration to the authorities to identify those responsible.”

The match at Via del Mare stadium in Lecce was delayed while an announcement calling for the chants to be stopped was made.

France defender Umtiti’s name was chanted by home fans in an attempt to drown out the abuse.

“Racist insults were drowned out by choruses of encouragement towards our champion,” Lecce said in a statement.

Fifa president Gianni Infantino addressed the abuse in a social media post on Thursday.

“Solidarity with Samuel Umtiti and Lameck Banda – let’s shout it loud and clear: No to racism,” he said.

“May the huge majority of fans, who are good people, stand up to shut up all the racists once and for all.”

Lazio’s stadium was partly closed for their Europa League game against Celtic in 2019 because of racist behaviour by their fans.

In 2020 Lazio were fined 20,000 euros (£17,700) for their fans’ racist abuse of Brescia striker Mario Balotelli.

Serie A is also investigating alleged racist abuse aimed at Inter Milan striker Romelu Lukaku by Napoli fans on Wednesday during the 1-0 win for the Belgium striker’s side.

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