ROME (AP) — Lazio will play its next game with part of the Stadio Olimpico closed to spectators after fans of the Roman club directed racist chants at Lecce defender Samuel Umtiti and winger Lameck Banda, who are both Black.
The referee briefly halted Wednesday’s match, which Lecce won 2-1, when the chants were heard at the Via del Mare stadium in Lecce. Then an announcement was made over the stadium speakers asking the fans to stop.
Lazio fans have a long history of discriminatory behavior and the club has been hit with numerous sanctions both in Serie A and Europe.
Lazio issued a statement Thursday condemning the chants.
“Lazio fans are not racists and cannot be associated with a few individuals who seriously damage the club’s image,” the team said.
Lazio’s “curva nord,” the northern end of the stadium where the club’s hard-core “ultra” fans sit, will be closed for Sunday’s game against Empoli.
Also Thursday, the league judge ordered a further inquiry into apparent racist taunts aimed at Inter Milan striker Romelu Lukaku by Napoli fans during Inter’s 1-0 win.
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