Racism has been a problem all season in Italy with offensive chants also aimed at Romelu Lukaku, Franck Kessie, Dalbert Henrique, Ronaldo Vieira and Kalidou Koulibaly. All of the players targeted are black, and many of the incidents have gone unpunished. This cost a bit of an outrage on social media as players and supportive fans united to campaign #SayNoToRacism. FIFA have been trying to curve racial abuse and/or language on players for some time now but it seems not to be making much difference as it continues to go on.
Lazio were handed a fine of €20,00 and temporarily avoided a stadium closure on Wednesday after its fans targeted Brescia striker Mario Balotelli with racist chants.
Serie A judge Gerardo Mastrandrea requested that further details on the case be handled by the Italian soccer federation prosecutor to determine exactly where in the stadium the chants came from, and to what extent Lazio collaborates in terms of identifying those responsible, before possible further punishment.
Sunday’s game was halted for a few minutes shortly after the half-hour mark and an announcement to stop the chants was made to fans at the stadium in Brescia. Brescia was leading 1-0 at the time following a goal scored by Balotelli, who had also been subjected to racial abuse earlier in the match. Balotelli posted a video of his goal on Instagram after the match and wrote: “Lazio fans that were today at the stadium SHAME ON YOU!”
The 29 year old Balotelli was singled out by Lazio fans for abuse all match with other offensive chants, that weren’t specifically racist, against him and his family. Balotelli was also the target of racial abuse earlier this season when he threatened to leave the field because of racist chants directed at him by Hellas Verona fans during a match in November.