Lecce player leaves pitch in tears after racial abuse from Lazio fans

France international Samuel Umtiti left the pitch in tears after he and Lecce teammate Lameck Banda suffered racist abuse from visiting Lazio fans in Italy's Serie A on Wednesday, marking yet another case of racism in Italian football.

Lecce defender Samuel Umtiti
Lecce defender Samuel Umtiti was the target of racial abuse during his side's game against Lazio. Photo by Vincenzo PINTO / AFP

The referee stopped the game in the second half because of racist taunts “coming from the visitor sector occupied by Lazio supporters”, Italian news agency Ansa said.

Cameroon-born defender Umtiti, who won the 2018 World Cup with France and is currency on loan to Lecce from Barcelona, was the primary target of the abuse.

Lazio fans also hurled racist insults at Zambian international Banda during the first half, Ansa reported.

Lecce president Saverio Sticchi Damiani said that the referee halted the game and, after stadium announcers called for the abuse to stop, “Umtiti asked that the match resume”.

The 29-year-old Umtiti left the pitch in tears at the end of the match, also receiving a standing ovation from the Lecce crowd, according to Italian media.

READ ALSO: Why do Italian football fans get away with racially abusing black players?

“He wanted to respond on the pitch to the insults. He reacted like a true champion,” newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport quoted Damiani as saying.

Lecce, who won 2-1, later praised their fans for responding to the abuse by chanting Umtiti’s name.

“The racist insults were drowned out by the cheers of encouragement for our champion!” the club said on Twitter, along with the hashtag in English #KeepRacismOut.

FIFA president Gianni Infantino also threw his support behind Umtiti and Banda.

“Let’s shout it loud and clear: NO TO RACISM! May the huge majority of fans, who are good people, stand up to shut up all the racists once and for all!” he wrote in an Instagram post.

READ ALSO: FIFA chief urges Italy to crack down on racism in football after abuse halts match

Lazio said in a statement that the club “condemns the perpetrators of this despicable, shameful and anachronistic gesture and will, as always, offer its maximum collaboration to the authorities in order to identify those responsible.”

“Lazio fans are not racist and cannot be associated with a few individuals who seriously damage the image of the club.”

This is by no means the first case of racist abuse in Italian football, particularly among clubs that have connections to the country’s far right.

Fascist fan groups are common across Italy. Lazio’s ultras group, the ‘Irriducibili’, has hardcore supporters with ties to the extreme right that stretch back to at least the 1970s.

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Champions League: Eight arrested after fans clash with police in Naples

Smoke bombs, flares, chairs, bottles and metal poles were thrown at police in Naples' historic centre on Wednesday, as Eintracht Frankfurt fans descended on the city despite a ban.

Champions League: Eight arrested after fans clash with police in Naples

Three German football fans and five Italians were arrested following violence in Naples before and after Napoli’s Champions League win over Eintracht Frankfurt, a local official said on Thursday.

Six police officers were injured in violence on Wednesday evening, according to Alessandro Giuliano, who is responsible for public safety in Naples.

Police were in the process of identifying 470 German fans who arrived in the city, and were scouring images to establish those responsible for the disorder, he told a press conference.

Dozens of supporters of Atalanta also joined forces with supporters of the German side, with whom they are twinned.

The first clashes occurred on Wednesday afternoon in Naples’ historic centre, and continued after the match, an easy 3-0 win for Napoli which took them through to the Champions League quarter-finals for the first time.

Smoke bombs and flares, chairs, bottles and metal poles were thrown at police, who responded with tear gas. Later, Napoli fans were filmed by Italian media throwing objects at buses carrying Eintracht fans.

Naples mayor Gaetano Manfredi condemned the “unacceptable” violence, while opposition politicians have questioned the government’s handling of the situation, notably by Interior Minister Matteo Piantedosi.

Napoli player Juan Jesus said the disorder was “bad for the city, and bad for football”.

“Because people come, then destroy, then leave, it’s not a good thing. It’s not possible to still see this in 2023, we are sorry to see these scenes,” he said.

The German supporters had travelled to southern Italy, with many arriving in Naples by train, even though Eintracht decided against selling tickets for the away section in Naples for the second leg of the last 16 tie.

Eintracht Frankfurt fans clash with anti-riot police after arriving in Naples despite not having tickets for their team’s Champions League decider with Napoli. (Photo by Ciro FUSCO / ANSA / AFP)

The Frankfurt club decided not to take up their allocation after the Naples prefecture decided on Sunday to ban residents of the German city from buying tickets.

A earlier Italian ban on Eintracht fans who lived anywhere in Germany was overturned.

Sunday’s decision came after violence in the first leg that was won 2-0 by Napoli in Frankfurt, which led to nine people being taken into custody.

Eintracht fans have been under close surveillance by European governing body UEFA since the pitch invasion which greeted the club reaching the final of the Europa League, which they won by beating Scottish club Rangers.