Serie A kicked off again after the World Cup break with plenty of excitement and enthusiasm, however the football was overshadowed by abhorrent abuse directed at Lecce players on the pitch from the stands by Lazio supporters.
It soured a full fixture list that promised thrilling football and delivered crucial results, as Serie A continues to struggle to tackle its problem with racism in the game.
Racism sees Lazio fans face stadium ban
Not for the first time, a section of Lazio supporters marred the day by targeting Lecce pair Samuel Umtiti and Lameck Banda with racist chanting that saw the former depart the Stadio Comunale Via del Mare pitch in tears, as the hosts secured a 2-1 win.
Visiting Biancoceleste supporters taunted the duo throughout the game with racial slurs, forcing referee Livio Marinelli to halt the match and an announcement threatening to abandon proceedings being played from the stadium’s speaker system.
It has prompted the Lega Serie A to close the Curva Nord at the Stadio Olimpico for Lazio‘s next home league game, against Empoli, as punishment against the Aquile’s ultras.
However, little else has been done to combat the latest incident involving the Rome-based club, who have an ugly history of racist and discriminatory behaviour from the stands.
Lazio condemn racist chants
Lazio released a statement via their official website after the final whistle to condemn the perpetrators, whilst distancing the club from the actions of the racist supporters.
“During the Lecce–Lazio match, the referee was forced to interrupt the game due to racist chants towards a player of the home team,” the statement read.
“S.S. Lazio have 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 in the appropriate manner 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.”
Inter’s Lukaku also targeted
Sadly, it was not the only potential case of racism in Serie A on Wednesday, with FCInter1908.it reporting that sports judge Gerardo Mastrandea has requested further information to open an investigation into allegations of abuse by Napoli fans.
It is suggested that a section of travelling Partenopei supporters racially abused Inter striker Romelu Lukaku during their 1-0 defeat to the Nerazzurri at the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza.