GENEVA: European federation UEFA has ordered Lazio to play two European ties behind closed doors after the club’s failure to act effectively against its racist supporters writes KEIR RADNEDGE.
Earlier this season, the Rome club were fined £120,000 after racist chanting in a Europa League game against Tottenham Hotspur.
Lazio supporters have been found guilty of racist behaviour by UEFA four times during the current campaign. The latest incident came during their Europa League last-32 match against Borussia Monchengladbach on February 21. The Serie A club won the second leg 2-0 to progress 5-3 on aggregate.
UEFA said the two-match supporters’ ban will start with Lazio’s Europa League game against Stuttgart on March 14.
A statement added: “The remaining game behind closed doors applies to the next UEFA competition match for which the club would qualify. The Italian club have also been fined €40,000.”
Lazio president Claudio Lotito said the sanction was “incredible” and that his club would appeal against the decision.
Lotito followed up with a comment which justified a statement last year from ex-German federation president Theo Zwanziger that Latin European football did not understand the racism issue.
The Lazio owner said: “To suffer a punishment of one or two games behind closed doors, which will cause serious economic damage to the club and prevent fans from participating in an event like this, seems absurd to me.”
UEFA has also warned Turkish club Fenerbahce that they face suspension from European competition if problems with supporters continue.
The club’s last European game, against BATE Borisov, was played behind closed doors but was still disrupted when fans threw fireworks from outside the stadium.
Paris Saint-Germain striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic was suspended for two games for his sending off in the Champions League last 16 first leg match with Valencia.
The Swede was shown a straight red card in stoppage time after lunging at fullback Andres Guardado with his studs up in PSG’s 2-1 victory in Spain on Feb. 12.
Ibrahimovic will miss the return leg in Paris on March 6 and the first leg of the quarter-final should the French league leaders progress.
“I’m surprised by the decision,” PSG coach Carlo Ancelotti told reporters. “I was already surprised when he was shown the red card. A two-game ban is incredible. I hope that UEFA will overturn the decision. We’re going to appeal.”
UEFA also rejected Schalke’s protest that Galatasaray striker Didier Drogba was eligible to play in their first leg in Istanbul on February 20.
Ivorian striker Drogba joined the Turkish club in late January from Shanghai Shenhua. The Chinese club had initially tried to block the transfer saying he had violated the terms of his contract.
“Having examined all the documents of the case, the Control and Disciplinary Body decided to reject the protest lodged by Schalke,” UEFA said in a statement.
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