Lazio condemn 'despicable, shameful and anachronistic' racist abuse

By Sports Desk January 05, 2023

Lazio have condemned the "despicable, shameful and anachronistic" racist abuse aimed at Lecce players Samuel Umtiti and Lameck Banda in Wednesday's Serie A match.

Lecce's 2-1 comeback victory at Stadio Via del Mare was overshadowed by a section of Lazio fans in the away end aiming abuse towards Umtiti and Banda.

The game was halted for several minutes and a message was played over the announcer system warning the contest would not resume if the chants continued.

Umtiti's name was chanted by home fans in solidarity and the centre-back personally asked for the match to resume, though he reportedly left the field in tears at full-time.

FIFA president Gianni Infantino called out the latest example of racist abuse in Italian football, coming on the day the Serie A season resumed from its near-two-month break.

In a statement released on Thursday, Lazio vowed to do everything they can to find those responsible, but they denied the club's supporters as a whole are racist.

"During the Lecce-Lazio match, the referee was forced to stop the match due to racist howls towards a player from the home team," the statement read.

"Lazio has always opposed all forms of racism and discrimination with all the means available.

"Initiatives are in place aimed at repressing these phenomena, making its fans aware of this issue and acting in the appropriate offices to protect its image.

"Even today, Lazio condemns those who have become the protagonists of this despicable, shameful and anachronistic gesture.

"We will, as always, offer the maximum collaboration to the authorities to identify those responsible. 

"Lazio fans are not racist and cannot be associated with a few individuals who seriously harm the club's image."

Ciro Immobile had given fifth-place Lazio the lead prior to Gabriel Strefezza and Lorenzo Colombo striking in the second half for Lecce, who moved up to 12th in Serie A.

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