Serie A Shame: Milan’s Walkout Highlights Inability to Tackle Racism

Racistic chants coming from the stands have become a frequent theme in Serie A in recent years, with the league proving terminally unable to address this issue. The latest incident occurred last night as Milan players walked off the pitch, only to return after a few minutes and claim an incredible 3-2 win at Udinese. 

With Milan 1-0 up, France international goalkeeper Mike Maignan was ready to take a goal-kick when he heard monkey noises from a section of the crowd at the Bluenergy Stadium. According to the highly-rated stopper, the insults were repeated until he couldn’t have taken it anymore. 

Justifiably annoyed with sick provocations from a group of hooligans, Maignan urged referee Fabio Maresca to halt the proceedings. He went a step further, storming straight down the tunnel as part of his protest against those who don’t belong to football stadiums. 

Though the game eventually continued, with Milan coming from behind to extend their winning streak in Serie A to four matches, another racial abuse taking place at an Italian stadium sent a vexing message to the world. It was not the first time this happened.

Roma striker Romelu Lukaku fell victim to fan abuse on several occasions while wearing the Inter shirt. Last season, Samuel Umtiti was on the receiving end of racist chants during Lecce’s home game against Lazio. 

Despite the Frenchman hailing the response in the aftermath, it was another instance showing Serie A remains unequipped to combat this notorious phenomenon. 

Milan issued a statement after the game to condemn Udinese fans. It read: “Following the unacceptable events during the match against Udinese, AC Milan has decided to not post any social media content today, 21 January 2024, in support of Mike Maignan and the fight against racism.”

Maignan’s international colleague, Kylian Mbappe, came to his aid. The Paris Saint-Germain superstar took to X, insisting “enough is enough.” 

You are very far from being alone Mike Maignan. We are all with you. Still the same problems and still NO solution. Enough is enough. NO TO RACISM,” Mbappe wrote. 

Another scandal, which has shaken the Serie A reputation, prompted FIFA president Gianni Infantino to call for the implementation of an automatic forfeit of games for teams whose fans commit racist abuse. 

As well as the three-step process (match stopped, match re-stopped, match abandoned), we have to implement an automatic forfeit for the team whose fans have committed racism and caused the match to be abandoned, as well as worldwide stadium bans and criminal charges for racists,” Infantino said in a FIFA post on X.

FIFA and football shows full solidarity to victims of racism and any form of discrimination. Once and for all: No to racism! No to any form of discrimination! The events that took place in Udine and Sheffield on Saturday are totally abhorrent and completely unacceptable. The players affected by Saturday’s events have my undivided support. 

We need ALL the relevant stakeholders to take action, starting with education in schools so that future generations understand that this is not part of football or society.

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