FIFA President Gianni Infantino urged fans to “silence all racists” after Lecce defender Samuel Umtiti and team-mate Lameck Banda were racially abused at their home game against Lazio on Wednesday.
Italian newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport reported that the game was suspended for a few minutes while an announcement was made at the stadium demanding the chants stop.
Home fans chanted Umtiti’s name to drown out the abuse and Lecce president Saverio Sticchi Damiani said the French world champions, on loan from Barcelona, have asked for the game to be resumed.
Lecce won the Serie A game 2-1 while Umtiti left the pitch in tears.
“Racist slurs were drowned out by cheering choruses towards our champion,” Lecce said in a statement.
Umtiti posted a message on Instagram that read: “Just football fun joy. The rest doesn’t count.”
Infantino showed his support for Umtiti and Zambian Banda in a social media post.
“Solidarity with Samuel Umtiti and Lameck Banda – let’s shout it loud and clear: No to racism,” he wrote as a caption to photos of Umtiti and Banda.
“May the vast majority of fans who are good people stand up to silence all racists once and for all.”
On Thursday, Lazio were ordered to play their next game at the Stadio Olimpico with the ‘Curva Nord’, the northern end of the stadium where the club’s die-hard ‘Ultra’ fans are seated and closed to spectators.
“During the game between Lecce and Lazio, the referee had to stop the game because of racist chants against a player from the home team,” Lazio said in a statement.
“SS Lazio once again condemns the perpetrators of this despicable, shameful and anachronistic gesture and will, as always, offer the authorities their utmost cooperation in identifying those responsible.
“Lazio fans are not racists and cannot be associated with a few people who are seriously damaging the club’s image.”
Umtiti’s parent club Barcelona also issued a statement of support for the France defender on Thursday, saying he “stands firm in his total opposition to any form of violence, racism, xenophobia and intolerance”.
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