Lecce defender, Samuel Umtiti left the field in tears following his team’s come-from-behind 2-1 victory over Lazio on Wednesday January 4, after being the subject of racist chanting from the away fans.
The former Barcelona star and his team-mate Lameck Banda were the targets of racist chanting from the Lazio fans in the away end during the match.
Referee Livio Marinelli stopped the game upon hearing the chants and had a message played over the announcer system that said the game would be permanently stopped if the chants did not cease.
In response, the Lecce fans chanted Umtiti’s name, and the game carried on, resulting in a Lecce victory, but Umtiti was visibly upset when walking off at full-time.
Speaking after the game, Lecce president Saverio Sticchi Damiani explained that Umtiti wanted the game to carry on.
“I hugged Samuel, as I do with all his team-mates. After each match, regardless of the result, I want to greet the boys and the staff,” he said.
“When the referee stopped the game, waiting for the announcer to call for an end to the racist chants, Umtiti asked for the game to resume because he wanted to respond to the insults he received on the pitch. He reacted like a true champion.”
Lecce’s club account tweeted: “Racist chants have been overwhelmed by songs of encouragement! All the yellow and red Lecce fans started shouting one name: Umtiti.”
FIFA president Gianni Infantino also posted a message of support.
“Solidarity with Samuel Umtiti and Lameck Banda – let’s shout it loud and clear: NO TO RACISM!” he said on social media.
“May the huge majority of fans, who are good people, stand up to shut up all the racists once and for all.”