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Italian football side Udinese ordered to play one match without fans after goalkeeper Mike Maignan racially abused
23 January 2024, 15:20
An Italian football side has been ordered to play a match behind closed doors after its fans racially abused opposition goalkeeper Mike Maignan.
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Maignan's side AC Milan walked off the pitch on Sunday after their French international goalkeeper reported hearing monkey noises from a section of the crowd at the Stadio Friuli.
The game resumed about ten minutes later, before resuming ten minutes later. Milan won 3-2.
Serie A, the Italian league, said Udinese must play their next game without any fans as a punishment for the racist abuse.
Maignan said after the game that football authorities had to change the way they responded to abuse incidents.
"This shouldn't exist in the world of football, but unfortunately for many years this is a recurrence," he told Milan TV.
"With all the cameras present and sanctions for these things, something must be done to change things.
"We all have to react, we must do something because you can't play like this."
It came on the same weekend as a similar incident in England. Coventry's Kasey Palmer said he received similar racist abuse during his side's 2-1 win over Sheffield Wednesday.
The game at Hillsborough was stopped for several minutes while match officials spoke to both managers.
Gianni Infantino, the president of FIFA, the game's governing body, said there should be harsher punishments moving forward.
"As well as the three-step process (match stopped, match re-stopped, match abandoned), we have to implement an automatic forfeit for the team whose fans have committed racism and caused the match to be abandoned, as well as worldwide stadium bans and criminal charges for racists," he said in a Fifa post on social media.
"Fifa and football shows full solidarity to victims of racism and any form of discrimination. Once and for all: No to racism! No to any form of discrimination!
"The events that took place in Udine and Sheffield on Saturday are totally abhorrent and completely unacceptable. The players affected by Saturday's events have my undivided support.
"We need ALL the relevant stakeholders to take action, starting with education in schools so that future generations understand that this is not part of football or society."
Football's anti-discrimination organisation Kick It Out praised Kasey Palmer and Mike Maignan for their bravery in calling out "yet more disgusting racist behaviour".
"Now it’s up to authorities and clubs to punish those responsible, but if clubs cannot prevent this happening, they too should face consequences," the group said.
"We welcome stronger and more meaningful punishments, as called for by Fifa.
"It cannot be on the players to solve this. We wish it were not the case, but they are already showing courage under extreme distress and emotional trauma. They need support with actions not words," Kick It Out concluded.
Milan and city rivals Inter have both publicly supported Maignan, Serie A said it "condemns all forms of racism", while France striker Kylian Mbappe said "enough is enough".
"You are very far from being alone Mike Maignan. We are all with you. Still the same problems and still NO solution. Enough is enough. NO TO RACISM," Mbappe posted on X.
Former England and Arsenal striker Ian Wright applauded the "solidarity" in the Milan side and urged teams to "keep walking off" when they hear abuse and called for stronger sanctions.