AC Milan match gets stopped again but this time for a good cause

Racism in football is sadly not a new problem. Players from different parts of the world, even superstars like Mario Balotelli, Raheem Sterling, Paul Pogba, Vinicius Jr, have experienced discrimination in their leagues throughout their careers.

Recently, AC Milan goalkeeper Mike Maignan became the target of racial abuse. During a 3-2 away win against Udinese, the match was halted in the first half because Udinese fans were shouting offensive “monkey” chants directed at him.

AC Milan match gets stopped to display strong message

AC Milan showed strong support for their goalkeeper Mike Maignan, who faced racial abuse. The incident resulted in lifetime stadium bans for the involved supporters, and Udinese had to play a match without spectators. In a display of solidarity during the game against Bologna, the match was paused after 16 minutes, representing Maignan’s shirt number.

Fans held up their phones with torches, and a quote from Martin Luther King, displayed on the scoreboard, read: “Darkness cannot drive out darkness. Only light can do that.”

Mike Maignan
Mike Maignan celebrated Milan’s 3-2 win over Udinese (via Getty)

After the game resumed, Milan found themselves trailing in the 29th minute when Joshua Zirkzee scored for Bologna. Milan had a chance to level the score, but Olivier Giroud missed a penalty after Simon Kjær was fouled by Lewis Ferguson. The aftermath of the penalty award resulted in a red card for Thiago Motta, the coach of Bologna.

In the second half, Milan’s Theo Hernandez hit the post from a penalty, marking another missed opportunity. Later on, Ruben Loftus-Cheek scored his second goal seven minutes from the end.

However, in stoppage time, Filippo Terracciano fouled Victor Kristiansen, resulting in a penalty that Riccardo Orsolini converted to secure a draw. AC Milan are currently third in the table with 46 points, seven behind the leaders, Juventus.

Aftermath of racial abuse directed at AC Milan keeper

The impact of the racial abuse towards AC Milan goalkeeper Mike Maignan was significant. The football community globally united in support of Maignan, while Udinese fans faced condemnation worldwide.

High-profile figures like Kylian Mbappe, former Arsenal legend Ian Wright, and Maignan’s teammates Rafael Leao and Yacine expressed their support on social media. Additionally, both Serie A and AC Milan’s official social media handles publicly denounced the actions of the Udinese fans.

AC Milan
The message by AC Milan was clear (via Getty)

Udinese faced consequences for the racial abuse incident. Serie A judge Gerardo Mastrandrea decided on Tuesday to impose a stadium ban for Udinese’s next home game against Monza on 3rd February.

This decision followed Udinese’s initiative on Monday, where they handed a lifetime ban to one supporter and committed to removing other individuals engaging in unacceptable behavior from their stadium, describing them as “evil people.”

In response to the issue, FIFA has called for more severe penalties for clubs whose fans engage in racially motivated attacks on players. Their proposal suggests that clubs whose fans disrupt the game and compromise its integrity with racist chants should face consequences, including the possibility of forfeiting the game.

“The events that took place in Udinese and Sheffield on Saturday are totally abhorrent and completely unacceptable,” Infantino said while addressing the issue. “There is no place for racism or any form of discrimination — both in football and in society. The players affected by these events have my undivided support.”

FIFA President Gianni Infantino speaks about stricter punishments for racial abuse in football (via Getty)

This is not the first case of racism this season either. Earlier, Coventry City midfielder Kasey Palmer was racially abused by fans of Sheffield Wednesday, whereas in Italy, Lazio were handed a stadium ban when their fans racially abused Roma forward Romelu Lukaku.

However, it remains to be seen how FIFA decides to implement these changes and penalties in its competitions. FIFA has been previously accused by fans and players of only preaching and not practicing solutions.

SZ Desk

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