The new year is less than a week old, but we’ve already got an incident of racism at a Serie A game. If you’re surprised by that, then you’re probably surprised it took five whole days to happen.
Brescia’s Mario Balotelli was the target yet again. Brescia hosted Lazio on Sunday, and about 1,500 Lazio fans traveled to the game. Those Lazio fans were loud, and at one point their chants became racist.
According to Sky Sports, Balotelli spoke to the referees about 30 minutes into the game to complain about the racist chants. That led to the game being stopped for a few minutes while an announcement was made at the stadium (which is part of the protocol when there are racist or homophobic chants during a game). The announcement warned fans that the match would be suspended if the chants continued.
ESPN reported that Lazio coach Simone Inzaghi was wildly gesticulating to Lazio fans from the sideline, urging them to stop their chants. Brescia confirmed to ESPN that Balotelli did ask the referees to suspend the game over racist abuse when he spoke to them during the game.
Brescia fans responded to the Lazio ultras by chanting “Mario! Mario!” in support of Balotelli, and the game continued. Despite Balotelli’s goal in the 18th minute, Brescia lost 2-1 to Lazio.
After the game Balotelli posted a video of his goal on Instagram, but added a message to the Lazio fans who hurled racist abuse at him while he was playing.
“Is a lost that hurt but we will come back stronger and we are on the right way! Lazio fans that were today at the stadium SHAME ON YOU! #saynotoracism”
Serie A has been a hotbed of racist fan chants lately. Balotelli threatened to walk off during a game in November when he was the target of racist chants. Romelu Lukaku of Inter Milan has been the target of racist chants several times, as has AC Milan’s Franck Kessie.
Neither Serie A or the Italian Football Federation have yet to hand down any punishments to clubs over these acts.
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