Lazio vs. Napoli Serie A clash halted by referee due to racist chants towards Kalidou Koulibaly

Referee Massimiliano Irrati has been praised for stopping the top-flight Italian league match in which Napoli centre back Kalidou Koulibaly was subjected to racist chants by Lazio fans

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."


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!”


Questo gioco è molto di più che nero bianco o verde! Tanta ammirazione per te amico! 

A photo posted by Keita Balde Diao✔ (@keitabalde14) on


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.”

Italian football has been marred by racism in recent seasons, most notably the abuse of Mario Balotelli, Kevin Prince-Boateng and Kevin Constant while playing for Milan.