Just days after Kevin Prince-Boateng highlighted the racism on Italian terraces during AC Milan’s friendly at Pro Patria, Serie A was the scene of more disgraceful chanting on Saturday night.
The Italian top flight returned from their winter break on Saturday night, with two games, the second of which saw Lazio come from behind to beat Cagliari and cement their position in second.
An unsavoury incident soured proceedings though as another match in Italy came close to being called off due to racist chanting aimed at Cagliari’s Victor Ibarbo.
After a complaint from the Cagliari bench, referee Daniele Orsato halted the game, spoke to both captains and a message over the tannoy was read out, urging fans to refrain from racist chants and monkey noises.
Lazio have long been known for unsavoury elements among their support and were fined for racist chanting at Tottenham in a Europa League group match earlier this season.
Lazio President Claudio Lotito publicly proclaimed his side are not racist post-match: “This debate is taking a bad turn, because Lazio get seen as a racist club and it is not. Unfortunately we cannot control the attitude of individual fans, nor criminalise an entire group of supporters for the behaviour of a few dozen. We have to clarify this and punish only those incidents where the majority of the fans take part in racist behaviour.”
Lotito continued: “I worked hard to prevent this sort of thing happening and I can say our fanbase has changed a lot since I took over as President. However, I cannot put a policeman on every fan when there are 30,000 in the stadium. The club has always distanced itself from certain behaviour with words and above all action, taking a strong hand against many fringe elements of the fanbase. We have black players in our squad, it doesn’t make sense for our fans to be racist.”
Footage of Victor Ibarbo being whistled by the home support can be seen on the video below. Notice how it stops as soon as the Cagliari winger releases the ball. Shocking.