MILAN (AP) — Lazio was fined 20,000 euros ($22,000) and at least 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.
“As has always happened in the past, Lazio dissociates itself in the most exhaustive way possible from the discriminatory behavior carried out by a very small minority of fans during the match against Brescia,” Lazio said in a statement after the game.
Lazio won 2-1.
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.
Racism has been a problem all season in Italy with offensive chants also aimed at Romelu Lukaku, Franck Kessie, Dalbert Henrique, Miralem Pjanic, Ronaldo Vieira and Kalidou Koulibaly. All of the players targeted — except for Pjanic, who is Bosnian — are black, and many of the incidents have gone unpunished.
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