x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Harsher punishments needed for Lazio fans

Lazio's notoriety for racist chanting and grandstand paraphernalia may be the fault of a minority of their fans. But that minority are serial offenders.

Lazio fans show their support during the game against Roma.
Lazio fans show their support during the game against Roma.

First the good news.

Lazio and Tottenham Hotspur cannot meet each other on the pitch until at least March, assuming they both progress to the next stage of the Europa League. The bad news is that if these two clubs go to the last 16 or beyond they might meet again.

In which case, we should be braced for more unedifying noises or incidents. The two matches between the teams in the competition's group phase have both led to Uefa investigations, the first, in London, concerned with racist chanting by followers of the Rome club directed at Tottenham's black players, the second because of the stabbing of two Spurs supporters in a bar in the Italian capital ahead of last week's 0-0 draw.

That attack left one man in hospital for what is likely to be at least another 10 days. Two people have been arrested and though Lazio were clearly relieved to learn the alleged assailants are Roma fans, they can hardly feel satisfied by the conduct of their followers.

Spurs fans were subjected to visible and audible anti-Semitic abuse – Tottenham have a historic association with London's Jewish community – during the match at the Olimpico the night after the violence.

Lazio's notoriety for racist chanting and grandstand paraphernalia may, as club president Claudio Lotito says, be the fault of a minority of their fans.

But that minority are serial offenders. And they are not being sufficiently policed by Lazio, nor enough of them deterred by Uefa, who must find something harsher than fines to penalise the club.

sports@thenational.ae

twitter Follow us @SprtNationalUAE