Samuel Umtiti, a defender for Lecce, left the field in tears after being subjected to abhorrent racist taunts from Lazio supporters.
Ciro Immobile’s early goal gave the Champions League-chasing team the lead, but goals from Gabriel Strefezza and Lorenzo Colombo turned the game around, giving Lecce a stunning comeback victory.
The match, however, was marred by a part of Lazio’s travelling crowd racially insulting Lecce players, notably Umtiti – who joined the Italian club from Barcelona last summer but has had a difficult year as a footballer after aiding France to World Cup victory in 2018.
Lecce president Saverio Sticchi Damiani said that the referee halted the game after stadium announcers called for the abuse to stop.
Racist chants were directed against Umtiti and his colleague Lameck Banda, a forward for Zambia’s national team, during the game by Lazio fans. At the conclusion of the game, Umtiti exited the field in tears as he recieved a standing ovation from the Lecce crowd.
FIFA president Gianni Infantino also showed 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.
This is far from the first instance of racial abuse in Italian football, particularly among clubs with ties to the country’s far right. Fascist support groups are common in Italy.