Lazio hit by terrace closure for Serie A opener

Lazio will stage their first match of the new Serie A season without a section of their fans

Story highlights

  • Italian club Lazio forced to shut a section of their ground for opening Serie A match
  • The terrace closure is punishment after Lazio fans were guilty of racist abuse
  • Fans in the Curva Nord shouted abuse at black Juventus players during Supercup final
  • Juventus player Paul Pogba says abuse "shows a lack of respect"

Italian football club Lazio must play their opening home game of the season with a section of their fans banned from the match as punishment for racial abuse.

Organisers of Italy's top-flight championship Serie A said in a statement that it had found Lazio fans guilty of "shouts and chants expressive of racial discrimination against three players of the opposing team" during the Italian Supercup final Sunday.

The match, which was won 4-0 by defending Serie A champions Juventus, was held at Lazio's Olympic Stadium in Rome.

League chiefs said Lazio supporters in the Curva Nord stand twice directed sustained abuse at the players involved in the traditional Serie A curtain raiser.

As punishment, that section of the ground will now be closed for Lazio's match against Udinese on 25 August.

France midfielder Paul Pogba was one of the Juventus players targeted by abuse by some of Lazio's more hardcore supporters.

He told the French news agency AFP: "What can I do? I'm alone against 30,000 fans. They do that even though there are blacks in their team.

"It's also a lack of respect towards their own players.

"It's really not nice to come to a football match and hear those sort of things but I'm a player, I concentrate on my job."

Italian football has been plagued by racist discrimination, with the sport's authorities struggling to eradicate the problem despite repeated efforts.

In June the Italian Football Federation brought in new rules allowing referees to stop matches and warn fans about their behavior, while players and clubs could potentially face tougher sanctions.

Last season Lazio fans were found guilty of racist behaviour by Uefa four times.

Following Sunday's Supercup final, Juventus and Lazio were also both fined by 5,000 euros after fans lit flares in the stands.