The Serie A league match between Lazio and Napoli on Wednesday evening was stopped by the referee following racist abuse of the visiting centre back, Kalidou Koulibaly.
The match was stopped in the 68th minute after continued booing of the Senegalese international whenever he touched the ball.
The referee, Massimiliano Irrati, stopped play for three minutes while consulting players and coaches about the racist abuse.
Napoli went on to secure a 2-0 victory with goals coming from former Real Madrid stars Gonzalo Higuain and Jose Callejon, to keep Napoli top of the league.
Koulibaly praised the referee’s actions in an Instagram post.
"I want to thank the Lazio players, but especially the referee Irrati for his courage."
"I thank my team-mates, the public and our fans, who have been a great support against these ugly chants.
"I want to thank everyone for the messages of solidarity which I have received."
Una vittoria importante! Però stasera voglio ringraziare tutti per i messaggi di solidarietà che mi sono arrivati. voglio ringraziare anche i giocatori della Lazio, ma soprattutto l'arbitro Irrati per il suo coraggio. Ringrazio i miei compagni di squadra, la società e i nostri tifosi che sono stati di un grande sostegno contro queste brutti cori! Andiamo avanti e forza Napoli sempre! #koulibaly #kkoulibaly26 #teamkk26 #teamR-kell #forzanapolisempre #napoli #vittoria
Napoli coach Maurizio Sarri also paid tribute to the referee.
"I have to compliment the match referee because the situation was becoming embarrassing”, Sarri told Mediaset Premium.
"The lads all felt sorry for Koulibaly. But I think he took it all in his stride because he is very intelligent, has a good head on his shoulders and was being helped by his teammates.”
Lazio forward, Keita Balde, showed solidarity to Koulibaly in an Instagram post saying: “This game is much more than white black or green! So much admiration for you friend!”
However, Lazio manager, Stefano Pioli disagreed with the referee’s decision: “I would not have stopped the match as that only lends importance to a minority of fans.”
“If I had been the referee I would not have stopped it. We also have players of colour and they are treated well.”Reuse content