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20 Jan, 2020 19:10

‘Charges will be brought’: Lazio demand fans pay for racist behavior

‘Charges will be brought’: Lazio demand fans pay for racist behavior

Lazio have issued a three-game ban and letters demanding a total of €50,000 ($55,000) in damages from fans found to have made fascist salutes which earned the club a partial stadium ban in the Europa League this season.

UEFA closed a section of the Stadio Olimpico when Lazio hosted Celtic in the Europa League and fined the club €20,000 ($22,000) after supporters were seen making far right gestures during the 2-1 win over French side Rennes on October 3.

Lazio refused to condemn racist chanting when they were handed a suspended stadium ban for racist behavior during a Coppa Italia match last season, but club president Claudio Lotito has taken a harder line by pinpointing the culprits and seeking payback this time.

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Accusing the recipients of inflicting “serious economic damage,” Lotito wrote: “As only the fans identified are responsible for the damage to the club, we invite you to contact us so that you can agree a method of payment to reimburse Lazio.

“From the footage taken by UEFA and the consequent police investigation, it emerged that you are responsible for the sanctionable behavior and charges will be brought against you. In the meantime, we inform you that the club has suspended your access to the Stadio Olimpico for the next three games.”

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Lotito added that the actions violated the code fans agree to when they buy a ticket and explained that the compensation sum had been calculated based on lost ticket sales and revenue.

While some online critics have applauded the move, others have questioned whether a three-match suspension represents sufficient punishment and suggested that Lotito could pursue legal action should the fans refuse to pay.

Racist incidents have blighted matches across Europe this season, including at Lazio’s rivals, Inter Milan, where striker Romelu Lukaku was among those to speak out after receiving abuse during matches.

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In the Premier League, play was stopped at Tottenham following an alleged incident of racist abuse directed at Chelsea defender Antonio Rudiger on December 22.

Lazio lost 2-1 to Celtic while observing the closure and failed to qualify for the knockout stages of the competition after finishing third in their group.

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