Report: Lazio fans racially abuse Bakayoko prior to Coppa Italia semifinal

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According to reports from Milan, visiting Lazio fans have begun racially abusing AC Milan midfielder Tiemoue Bakayoko prior to kickoff of the Coppa Italia semifinal second leg at the San Siro, according to a report by Football Italia. Midfielder Franck Kessie was also reportedly a target, with the same fans filmed outside the stadium chanting racial abuse aimed at the player.

Lazio fans have taken particular aim at Bakayoko and Kessie after the pair was forced to apologize for mocking Lazio defender Francesco Acerbi by holding his jersey around during postmatch celebrations of a 1-0 AC Milan win over Lazio in Serie A play. Bakayoko and Acerbi had gone back and forth in the media during the buildup to the match.

“Harboring hatred is not sport but a sign of weakness,” Acerbi said after the match when he learned of the postmatch display by the two AC Milan players.

According to Football Italia, rules in the Italian top flight do not allow a referee to stop or postpone a match for racial abuse. That falls to the duties of the official in charge of public safety and security, not the match official.

In addition to the racial abuse, a group of around 50 Lazio ultras from the “Irriducibili” group traveled to nearby Piazzale Loreto to unveil a banner that read “Honour to Benito Mussolini” and make Nazi salutes.

There is political pretext for the group to make these displays. Piazzale Loreto is the location where Mussolini’s body was hung up in the final moments of World War 2, while Thursday marks the Festival of Liberation in Italy to celebrate the defeat of the fascist rule in Italy.

The stunt forced Deputy Prime Minister of Italy Matteo Salvini – also an outspoken AC Milan supporter – to release a statement on social media.“No tolerance for any form of violence, whether physical or verbal. I thank the police force who are carefully monitoring the situation. Football must be an occasion to celebrate and meet up, not of brawls and clashes.”

What is going on here? Turkey, Croatia charged for flare incidents

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Not just weeks, nor months, but years: That’s how long we’ve been talking about security concerns for EURO 2016.

Despite so much planning, fans have managed to bring flares and — according to ESPN analyst and former USMNT goalkeeper Kasey Keller — even a flare gun into stadiums.

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The fear was visceral and visible when a steward was injured trying to pick up a flare that exploded inches from his outstretched hand. The match was suspended for several minutes, and the Czechs equalized in stoppage time.

[ MORE: Vardy’s wife recounts chaos ]

Gabriele Marcotti also reported on the ESPN broadcast that both Turkey and Croatia fans have been charged for throwing flares, and that Croatian fans actually want their federation penalized because of displeasure with how their program is run (Fans had been previously banned for fascist chants, and a player missed a World Cup as well).

These so-called fans want to see their team implode, and they were pleased when the Croatians allowed that equalizer. It’s a victory for their cause. These are people in the soccer world, not domestic or international terrorists (though, of course, in a sense they also are…).

Croatia gets 2-match World Cup stadium ban for fascist chant

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ZURICH (AP) Croatia has been ordered to play two World Cup qualifying matches in empty stadiums for repeated cases of fans chanting fascist slogans.

FIFA fined the Croatian soccer federation 150,000 Swiss francs ($151,000), and ordered the stadium bans to take effect when Croatia hosts Turkey on Sept. 5 and Finland on Oct. 9.

Chile was also ordered to play one World Cup qualifier away from its national stadium over fans chanting anti-gay insults, FIFA said in disciplinary rulings announced Friday. FIFA also fined five Latin American soccer federations for “discriminatory and unsporting conduct by fans,” including anti-gay insults, at World Cup qualifiers.

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Croatia fans were guilty of discriminatory chants at friendlies against Israel and Hungary in March, FIFA said.

Croatia “had already been sanctioned for similar incidents by FIFA and UEFA” in previous seasons, the world soccer body said.

Before the 2014 World Cup, FIFA banned Croatia defender Josip Simunic for 10 matches for leading fans in a World War II-era chant used by the country’s then-puppet regime.

After incidents of anti-gay chants at the last World Cup in Brazil, FIFA has cracked down on insults aimed by Latin American fans at players on rival teams.

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Chile cannot use its national stadium when it hosts Bolivia on Sept. 6 and must pay a fine of 30,000 Swiss francs ($30,250). A second stadium-ban sanction was deferred for a two-year probationary period.

In other sanctions for soccer federations, FIFA fined Honduras 40,000 Swiss francs ($40,300), Mexico and El Salvador 35,000 Swiss francs ($35,275) each, Paraguay 20,000 Swiss francs ($20,150), and Peru 15,000 Swiss francs ($15,115).