Lazio Supporters Hurl Racist Abuse At Umtiti

Visiting Lazio supporters in Italy’s Serie A on Wednesday reportedly racially abused France player Samuel Umtiti and Lecce colleague Lameck Banda, causing them to leave the field in tears.

According to Italian news agency Ansa, the referee interrupted the game in the second half due to racial slurs “coming from the visiting section populated by Lazio supporters.”

The vitriol was mostly directed towards defender Umtiti, a Cameroonian who was born and currently plays on loan for Lecce from Barcelona and won the 2018 World Cup with France.

Ansa said that Lazio supporters also racially disparaged Zambian international Banda in the first half.

The referee stopped the game, and when the stadium announcers requested for the abuse to cease, Umtiti “asked that the match resume,” according to Lecce president Saverio Sticchi Damiani.

Italian media reported that the 29-year-old Umtiti was given a standing ovation by Lecce fans before he left the stadium in tears.

“He wanted to respond on the pitch to the insults. He reacted like a true champion,” newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport quoted Damiani as saying.

Lecce, who won 2-1, afterwards praised their fans for responding to the abuse by chanting Umtiti’s name.

“The racist insults were drowned out by the cheers of encouragement for our champion!” the club said on Twitter, along with the hashtag in English #KeepRacismOut.

FIFA president Gianni Infantino also threw his support behind Umtiti and 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!” he wrote in an Instagram post.

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