One more time, The Italian football championship is making headlines because of a handful of hateful morons. On Wednesday evening, Samuel Umtiti, French defender of the Lecce team, and his Zambian teammate Lameck Banda, were targeted by racist cries from Lazio Rome supporters during the Serie A match played in Puglia. The referee of this match won by Lecce (2-1) was forced to stop the match a few moments in the second half because of racist cries “came from the visitor sector occupied by Lazio supporters”according to the Italian agency Ansa.
These songs were then aimed at Umtiti, loaned since last summer to Lecce by FC Barcelona, but others had been heard in the first period targeting Banda. The 2018 world champion left the pitch in tears at the end of the match, to a standing ovation from the Lecce crowd, according to Italian media.
All our support for @samumtiti and his teammate Lameck Banda, victims of unbearable racist chants during their last match with Lecce against Lazio Rome.
We are with you Sam 💙🤍❤️ pic.twitter.com/txtdRKBvR7
— French team ⭐⭐ (@equipedefrance) January 4, 2023
“The racist cries were overwhelmed by those of encouragement. all the people giallorosso [jaune et rouge, les couleurs de Lecce, ndlr] started shouting only one name, Samuel Umtiti”wrote the club from the South of Italy on its Twitter account, with the mention in English “leave racism out” and photos of the French defender.
“When the referee interrupted the match, waiting for the announcer to call for an end to the racist cries, Umtiti asked that the match be resumed, because he wanted to respond on the field to the insults received. He reacted like a true champion.commented the president of Lecce Saverio Sticchi Damiani, quoted on the site of the Gazzetta dello Sport.
Italian stadiums have a history with racism
Racist shouting is a recurring phenomenon in Italian stadiums, especially from some Lazio Rome supporters, reputable club with links to the country’s fascist history. In August, Nigerian Victor Osimhen of Napoli was the target of discriminatory cries in Verona.
After a season and a half behind closed doors due to the pandemic, racist incidents returned to stadiums last season. KoulibalyOsimhen but also Mike Maignan or Zlatan Ibrahimovic had notably been victims.
In the evening, the president of Fifa Gianni Infantino expressed his “solidarity with Samuel Umtiti and Lameck Banda”. “Let’s cry out loud and clear: NO TO RACISM! May the overwhelming majority of supporters, who are good people, rise up to silence all racists once and for all!”, he wrote on Instagram. Samuel Umtiti for his part reacted in an Instagram story: “Only football, fun, joy. The rest doesn’t count.”
In Italy, footballer Samuel Umtiti leaves the pitch in tears after racist chants