Lazio has been penalized with a one-match stand closure following instances of supporters directing monkey chants at Romelu Lukaku during their midweek Italian Cup victory over Roma, as confirmed by Serie A on Friday.
The league stated that three sections of the Stadio Olimpico, where Lazio’s hardcore fans are located, will be closed during the upcoming league fixture against Napoli on January 28.
Lazio has been punished for “boorish, insulting and racially discriminatory monkey chanting” directed at Roma forward Lukaku from the Curva Nord and two adjacent sections “whenever he was in possession of the football“.
The statement continued that four Italian Football Federation observers clearly heard the racist abuse at the match and that they came from “90 percent of the 16,000 fans in those areas of the ground”.
Lazio boasts a significant number of right-leaning fans in a nation where fascist organizations are prevalent, a phenomenon not exclusive to the club, as Roma’s hardcore supporters also share a notable history of far-right affiliations.
The recent events on Wednesday represent the most recent occurrences in a series of incidents involving Lazio. The club had previously received a one-match stadium closure in April of the previous year due to instances of anti-Semitic and racist chants during another derby clash with Roma.
In January of last year, Lazio’s fans had a profound impact on France international Samuel Umtiti, reducing him to tears during a match against Lecce.
It’s not the first time fans in Italy have targeted Lukaku, as he was racially abused by Juventus fans last season and monkey chanted at by Cagliari supporters in 2019 while still at Inter Milan.
The incident at Cagliari, which authorities left unpunished, was succeeded by Inter’s hardcore fans penning an open letter to Lukaku, asserting that monkey chants shouldn’t be deemed racist.
Furthermore, Lazio faced a 50,000 euros fine for their supporters breaching a security cordon, breaking through to the rival fans’ section, and launching various items, including “beer and water bottles, flares, fireworks, and firecrackers,” at the Roma fans. In response, Roma’s fans incurred a 15,000 euro fine for retaliating in a similar manner.
The home supporters added to the chaos by hurling flares and bottles onto the pitch during the match, with Roma midfielder Edoardo Bove getting struck on the neck by a full beer after being substituted in the second half.
The Rome derby, renowned for its intensity, witnessed several skirmishes and police charges before Wednesday’s match. Post-game, Lazio fans raided a pub popular among Roma supporters near the stadium, resulting in two individuals being stabbed amid the chaos.
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