Lazio given suspended partial stadium ban after fans' racist abuse of AC Milan players
Lazio have been handed a suspended one-match partial stadium closure after their fans were found guilty of racially abusing AC Milan players Franck Kessie and Tiemoue Bakayoko in their Coppa Italia semifinal second leg on Wednesday.
Kessie and Bakayoko were both subjected to racist insults and monkey chants from a significant number of visiting fans before, during and after Lazio's 1-0 win at the San Siro -- actions which Lazio refused to condemn.
Lega Serie A officials present at the match said they observed "approximately 90 percent of the 4,049 Lazio fans in attendance" hurling racist insults. However, a disciplinary judge decided on Monday that no immediate action would be taken against the club.
Instead, a portion of Lazio's Stadio Olimpico will be closed only if further racist behaviour is registered within the next 12 months. It means Lazio will host Atalanta -- their Coppa Italia final opponents -- at their home stadium with the club not facing any restrictions.
Milan condemned the behaviour of Lazio supporters immediately after the game on Wednesday, and said the club felt compelled to report the incidents to various governing bodies in sport.
"AC Milan wants to reiterate its condemnation of all forms of racism and discrimination following the incidents of last night's Coppa Italia semifinal second leg game between AC Milan and SS Lazio," read a statement by the club. "AC Milan has felt an obligation to report yesterday's serious incidents to the highest sports governing bodies, with the hope that, with everyone's commitment, measures are implemented to eliminate racism from all stadiums."
Milan sporting director Leonardo told La Gazzetta dello Sport on Monday of his surprise that the game was not brought to a halt by match officials.
"There were at least a thousand reasons to interrupt that game," he said. "With the new norms, you don't even need to wait for the second or third time the chants are made, you only needed to hear them once to call the teams into the centre circle and make an announcement and then, if the chants persisted, suspend the game for good.
"But nothing happened, despite everybody hearing the chants and monkey sounds. If two announcements were made over the PA system then it means these insults and chants were clearly audible to everybody, yet [referee Paolo] Mazzoleni just carried on as if he were the only one not to hear anything."