FIFA president Gianni Infantino has called for good fans to “shut up” racists after Lecce pair Samuel Umtiti and Lameck Banda were subjected to abuse during their Serie A game against Lazio.
Lecce came back in the match to secure an impressive 2-1 victory against Maurizio Sarri’s side, but the game was interrupted after sections of the away support started being racially abusive towards Umtiti and Banda.
Home fans were chanting Umtiti’s name in an attempt to drown out the abuse. Serie A’s disciplinary committee has now ordered the closure of the Curva Nord, where Lazio’s ultras stand at the Stadio Olimpico, as punishment for the chants.
Napoli may yet face similar sanction, pending further investigation of chants aimed at Romelu Lukaku in their game against Inter Milan last night.
Infantino showed his support for Umtiti and Banda in a social media post, saying: “Solidarity with Samuel Umtiti and Lameck Banda — let’s shout it loud and clear: No to racism.
“May the huge majority of fans, who are good people, stand up to shut up all the racists once and for all.”
After the match, Lecce also tweeted with a message of solidarity. They said: “Racist chants have been overwhelmed by songs of encouragement! All the yellow and red Lecce fans started shouting one name: Umtiti.”
Defender Umtiti also reacted in a post on Instagram, which had the caption: “Only football, fun, joy. The rest doesn’t count.”
Lazio have since issued a statement saying they will be working with the relevant authorities to identify those responsible.
They said: “During the Lecce-Lazio match, the referee was forced to interrupt the game due to racist abuse towards a player of the home team.
“S.S. Lazio has always fought against all forms of racism and discrimination with all the means at its disposal, putting in place initiatives aimed at repressing these phenomena, making its fans aware of this issue and acting with the appropriate bodies to protect its image.
“S.S. Lazio once again condemns the perpetrators of this despicable, shameful and anachronistic gesture and will, as always, offer its utmost cooperation to the authorities in identifying those responsible. Lazio fans are not racists and cannot be associated with a few individuals who seriously damage the club’s image.”
Umtiti moved to Lecce on loan for the 2022-23 season from Barcelona and has made just six appearances for the Italian side.
(Photo: Getty Images)
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