UEFA to investigate Lazio chants

UEFA have opened disciplinary proceedings against Lazio for the alleged racist behaviour of some of their fans at Spurs.

Last Updated: 21/09/12 at 18:14 Post Comment

UEFA to investigate chants by Lazio fans

UEFA to investigate chants by Lazio fans

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UEFA have opened disciplinary proceedings against Lazio for the alleged racist behaviour of some of their fans in the clash against Tottenham.

Aaron Lennon, Jermain Defoe and Andros Townsend all appeared to be the subject of monkey chants from the away end during Spurs' 0-0 stalemate against the Italian side at White Hart Lane in the Europa League on Thursday night.

After receiving reports from Thursday night's referee Ovidiu Alin Hategan and match delegate Adonis Procopiou, European football's governing body this evening charged the Rome-based club with improper conduct.

A statement read: "UEFA has opened disciplinary proceedings against S.S. Lazio for the improper conduct of the club's supporters (racist behaviour) during the UEFA Europa League group stage match on Thursday 20 September between Tottenham Hotspur FC and the Italian side."

UEFA's Control and Disciplinary Body will hear the case on October 18.

Article 11 of UEFA's disciplinary regulations states that Lazio can expect a fine of 20,000 euros (around £16,000) if their fans are found guilty of racial abuse.

Should they decide further action is deserved, UEFA could force Lazio to play one or more of their games behind closed doors.

They could even be stripped of some of their points or disqualified from the competition altogether, although this punishment is likely to be meted out in only the most extreme cases.

UEFA have come in for criticism for the punishments they have dished out for racism in recent times.

Last season UEFA fined Porto £16,700 for their fans' racist abuse at Mario Balotelli and Yaya Toure, but then caused outrage by fining Manchester City £24,735 for being one minute late back on to the pitch after half-time during the Europa League clash.

The punishment also seemed small fry compared to the £80,000 sanction they handed down to Nicklas Bendtner for revealing a sponsor's logo on his underpants during Euro 2012.

Piara Powar, executive director of anti-discrimination Football Against Racism in Europe (FARE), thinks UEFA should force Lazio, whose 'Ultra' supporters are synonymous with the far right, to play their next game behind closed doors if found guilty.

He said: "UEFA normally operate a 'three strikes and you're out' policy, and I think Lazio are at first base in that respect, but if (UEFA) really want to set the bar high, if they really want to send out a strong message, then I think they can do so regardless of whether it's a first or second offence.

"I therefore think that UEFA could move directly to something like a match behind closed doors (punishment).

"They could suspend that punishment, perhaps, and then if something happens further down the line, then they can trigger that.

"Lazio are a strong club. They have been part of the European football scene for a long time. There needs to be quite a hard symbolic action taken when these instances occur.

"This punishment is one way of waking the club and the fans up to some of the problems that they face."

The London Metropolitan Police confirmed that no complaints about alleged racist shouting had been made, while the managers of both teams involved said they did not hear anything untoward.

Tottenham have not made a formal complaint to UEFA and are happy for the governing body to take care of the matter as they see fit.

The last 24 hours have proven that racism is still part of football despite strong attempts to kick it out of the game.

Just before last night's 0-0 draw it emerged that Chelsea midfielder John Obi Mikel had shut his Twitter account down after receiving racist abuse on the micro-blogging website.

Today Barclays Premier League managers united in urging UEFA to take a hardline stance on racism.

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger said: "How we improve things is by being absolutely resilient to fight against stupidity. It looks like it will be an endless fight but we have to fight against it, against stupid reactions from the crowd and I'm certain we have to be tougher at every level."

Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert said: "It's not right. There's no place for it in any walk of life, let alone football.

"Hopefully UEFA can do something about it. You'll still get a minority of idiots out there who do it, but there's no place for it."

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