Lazio sanctioned with partial suspension of the stadium for racist chants in Umtiti

ROME (AP) — Lazio will play their next game with part of the Stadio Olimpico closed to spectators after fans of the Roman club led racist chants against Lecce defender Samuel Umtiti and winger Lameck Banda, both black.

The referee briefly stopped Wednesday’s game, which Lecce won 2-1, when chants erupted at Lecce’s Via del Mare stadium. An announcement was then made over the stadium’s loudspeakers asking the fans to stop.

Lazio fans have a long history of discriminatory behavior and the club has been hit with numerous sanctions in both Serie A and Europe.

Lazio issued a statement on Thursday condemning the chants.

“Lazio fans are not racist and cannot be associated with a few individuals who seriously damage the image of the club,” the team said.

Lazio’s “curva nord,” the northern end of the stadium where the club’s most hardcore “ultra” fans sit, will be closed for Sunday’s game against Empoli.

Also on Thursday, the league judge ordered a further investigation into the apparent racist taunts directed at Inter Milan striker Romelu Lukaku by Napoli fans during Inter’s 1-0 win.

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