KEIR RADNEDGE REPORTS: FIFA president Gianni Infantino has demanded that clubs should forfeit matches if games have to be abandoned because of racist abuse of opposing players.

This follows Saturday’s latest incident in Italy’s Serie A at Udinese when Milan’s goalkeeper Mike Maignan was targeted by home fans, prompting him and his team-mates to walk off the pitch. The match was resumed after a brief suspension and public address warning.

Another racist abuse incident took place in the English second tier at Sheffield Wednesday when Coventry’s Casey Palmer was subject to a racist gesture by a home fan. Wednesday condemned the racist attack and are working with the police to identify the fan.

Infantino, in a statement released on X (formerly Twitter), said: “The events that took place in Udine and Sheffield on Saturday are totally abhorrent and completely unacceptable. There is no place for racism or any form of discrimination – both in football and in society. 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.

“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.

“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 FIFA president’s statement may do little to reassure players with leagues and federations continually reluctant to do more in disciplinary terms than issue comparatively meaningless sanctions.

A Udinese statement said: “Udinese Calcio deeply regrets and condemns every act of racism and violence. We reaffirm our aversion to any form of discrimination and express our profound solidarity with the AC Milan player Mike Maignan in light of Saturday’s deplorable incident at our stadium.

“Udinese will collaborate with all investigating authorities to ensure immediate clarification of the incident, with the aim of taking any necessary measures to punish those responsible.

“As an institution, we will continue to work diligently, as we always have, to promote diversity and integration of all ethnicities, cultures and languages among our players, staff, fan base and city.”

###########