Lazio to close Stadio Olimpico stand for first match of the season after 'racist abuse' during Supercoppa

Fans punished after allegedly directing abuse at Juventus players

The north stand of the Stadio Olimpico will be closed to supporters for the first game of the Serie A season after Lazio fans allegedly directed racist abuse at Juventus players during the Italian Supercoppa, the Lega Serie A has confirmed.

Supporters will be unable to access the area of the stadium typically populated by Lazio's keenest followers for Sunday's visit of Udinese after the Lega took issue with chants directed at Paul Pogba, Angelo Ogbonna and Kwadwo Asamoah during the capital club's 4-0 loss to Juventus this weekend.

A statement published on the league's official website read: "(Lazio) are obliged to dispute a game with the 'Curva Nord' closed to spectators because fans from the nominated stand directed racially discriminatory chants to three opposition players between the 16th and 28th minutes of the first half and the 20th to 43rd minutes of the second half."

Lazio and Juventus were also handed additional 5,000 euro fines after supporters from both clubs were seen throwing smoke grenades and lighters onto the pitch.

Lazio's city rivals Roma, with whom they share the Stadio Olimpico, have already been punished with a partial stadium closure after fans allegedly racially abused AC Milan striker Mario Balotelli during a league game in May.

The heavier sanctions have made been possible by new anti-racism legislation passed by the Italian Football Federation and league authorities on June 4 in response to increasing incidents of discrimination on the peninsula.

Milan midfielder Kevin-Prince Boateng walked off the pitch in response to racist abuse in a mid-season friendly at Pro Patria in January while his team-mate Balotelli has found himself the regular target of discriminatory remarks since returning to Italy.

Referees now have the power to suspend play while fans are warned against continuing such behaviour, and clubs and individuals face increased fines and longer suspensions.

Matera midfielder Gaetano Iannini this month became the first player to be suspended for 10 games under the new laws after allegedly racially abusing an opponent during a Coppa Italia match.

PA

 

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