Italian club Lazio punished for fourth racism offense this season

Story highlights

  • Serie A side Lazio punished for a series of offenses including racism
  • UEFA says Lazio must play next two European home games behind closed doors
  • The Rome-based team also fined €40,000 ($52,000) by ruling body
  • It is the fourth time this season Lazio has been punished by UEFA

Lazio will play its next two European matches behind closed doors after football authorities punished the Italian club for several offenses, including a fourth charge of racist behavior this season.

European football's governing body also fined Lazio €40,000 ($52,000) following incidents in last week's Europa League round of 32 tie with German side Borussia Monchengladbach.

Lazio had already been fined a total of $230,000 for racist abuse and other fan offenses during two group-stage matches with English team Tottenham Hotspur and another against Slovenia's Maribor.

The Rome-based team has appealed UEFA's latest decision, which was handed down for "setting off and throwing fireworks, racist behavior and insufficient organization."

"The control and disciplinary body decided to order Lazio to play their next two UEFA competition matches as host club behind closed doors," read UEFA's statement.

It applies to the home leg of Lazio's last-16 clash in the second-tier competition against another German team, Stuttgart, on March 14.

"The remaining game behind closed doors applies to the next UEFA competition match for which the club would qualify," the ruling body said.

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It is also the second time in a matter of days that a top Italian team has been cited for racism.

Inter Milan was fined €50,000 ($65,500) by the Italian football federation on Tuesday after its supporters directed abuse at former player Mario Balotelli during Sunday's derby match with city rival AC Milan.

Lazio president Claudio Lotito was disappointed by UEFA's decision, saying it was unfair on the majority of fans at the Stadio Olimpico.

"We cannot as a club be penalized for the mistakes of a small minority (and) we will lodge an appeal," Lotito told RaiSport.

"Lazio did everything we could and should have done to stop this from happening. It seems absurd to me that we have to play behind closed doors, which will seriously damage the club economically and stop the fans from participating in this event.

"We must distinguish between the delinquents who act on their own volition and those fans who express themselves in a civilized fashion."

UEFA meted out a heavier punishment to Turkish club Fenerbahce following last week's home Europa League match against BATE Borisov, threatening the Istanbul team with a one-season ban from from European competition if it offends again in the next two years.

That sanction is probationary, but Fenerbahce will have to play the home leg of its last-16 clash with Viktoria Plzen on March 14 behind closed doors and pay a €60,000 ($79,000) after its fans set off and threw fireworks from outside the stadium.

Fenerbahce's Portugal midfielder Raul Meireles will miss both games against the Czech club after being sent off in the February 14 away leg against BATE.