Football: Umtiti targeted by racist crises during a match in Italy
The 2018 world champion and his team-mate Lameck Banda have been victims of racist chants from Lazio Rome supporters.
Samuel Umtiti left the Lecce pitch in tears on Wednesday 4 November, despite his team’s victory. The French defender and his Zambian teammate Lameck Banda were targeted by racist cries from Lazio Rome supporters during the meeting, according to his club and Italian media. The referee of this match won by Lecce (2-1) was forced to stop the match for a few moments in the second half due to racist crises « coming from the visitor sector occupied by Lazio supporters », according to the Italian agency ansa
These cries were aimed at Asor Umtiti, 2018 world champion with France, loaned since last summer to Lecce by FC Barcelona, but others had been heard in the first period targeting Banda, according to the same source. Umtiti left the pitch in tears at the end of the match, to a standing ovation from the Lecce crowd, according to Italian media.
“He reacted like a true champion”
“Racist crises have been overwhelmed by those of encouragement. All the people giallorosso (yellow and red, the colors of Lecce, editor’s note) started shouting a single name, Samuel Umtiti », wrote the club from southern Italy on its Twitter account, with the mention in English « let racism aside” and photos of the French defender.
« When the referee interrupted the match, waiting for the announcer to call for an end to the racist crises, umtiti asked that the match resume, 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.
In the evening, the president of Fifa, Gianni Infantino, expressed his « solidarity with Samuel Umtiti and Lameck Banda ». “Let us shout loud and further: NO TO RACISM! May the vast majority of supporters, who are good people, rise up to silence all racists once and for all! “, he wrote on Instagram.
A recurrent fact in Italy
Racist cries are a recurring phenomenon in Italian stadiums, especially from certain Lazio supporters known, for a fringe of them, to have links with the fascist history of the country. In August, Nigerian Victor Osimhen was the target of discriminatory outbursts in Verona.
READ ALSOThe players of the France team designated by racist and hateful messages
After a season and a half in stadiums behind closed doors due to the pandemic, racist incidents, recurring in Italy, returned to the stadiums last season. Koulibaly, Osimhen but also Mike Maignan or Zlatan Ibrahimovic had notably been victims.