FIFA president Sepp Blatter has welcomed the Italian authorities’ decision to close part of Rome’s Stadio Olimpico for Lazio’s opening Serie A game of the season on Sunday due to racial chanting in last weekend’s Supercoppa.
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A trio of Juventus players -- Paul Pogba, Kwadwo Asamoah and Angelo Ogbonna -- were targeted by a group of Lazio fans during the Bianconeri’s 4-0 victory at the weekend.
The Lega Serie A -- the Italian top flight’s governing body -- reacted by invoking new powers that have come into force this season to close the Curva Nord of the Stadio Olimpico to home fans against Udinese. That move is a step in the right direction, according to Blatter, who has backed the Lega’s endeavours to stamp out racism on his Twitter account.
I support firm stance by clubs & authorities taken in response to racist incidents in Munich & Rome at weekend. FIFA Taskforce meets 12/9.— Joseph S Blatter (@SeppBlatter) August 19, 2013
Former Lazio midfielder Ousmane Dabo, meanwhile, has expressed his disappointment at the chants on Sunday but said the club remains “special” to him.
They were forced to play two UEFA Europa League games behind closed doors last season due to persistent racist chanting in previous European matches.
“The monkey noises towards the Juve players hurt me,” he wrote on his Facebook profile. “I don’t understand why people continue to make these sounds considering they are only damaging their own fans because the Curva will now be closed, but it also damages Lazio on an international level, both in terms of stadium closures and their reputation.
“People throughout the world think all Lazio fans are racists. In France, people ridicule me for being a Lazio fan because I’m black and this hurts me a lot. I tell them that Lazio fans are not racist but, when you hear the chants like on Sunday, what can I say?
“I spent six intense years with Lazio and I fell in love with the club and I would like it if other people like me, whether black, yellow, white or even green, could understand what Lazio is all about and how special it is to support or play for this club.”