FIFA president says teams should forfeit if fans are racist after incidents on Saturday

AC Milan goalkeeper Mike Maignan embraced by team-mates at the end of his club's 3-2 win at Udinese, in which he received racial abuse, in January 2024.
(Image credit: Getty Images)

FIFA president Gianni Infantino says teams whose fans are guilty of racist chanting should automatically forfeit the game following fresh incidents on Saturday.

AC Milan goalkeeper Mike Maignan walked off after he was abused in Saturday's game at Udinese, with the match paused for several minutes, while Coventry City midfielder Kasey Palmer was also targeted at Sheffield Wednesday in the Championship earlier in the day.

In a FIFA statement, Infantino said: "The events that took place in Udine and Sheffield Wednesday are totally abhorrent and completely unacceptable.

"There is no place for racism or any form of discrimination, either in football or in society. The players affected by Saturday's events have my full support."

Infantino went on to add that tougher action needs to be taken against racists, with stadium bans and criminal charges needed.

"In addition to the three-step process [match stopped, match stopped again and match abandoned], we need to enforce automatic defeat for the team whose fans committed racism and caused the match to be abandoned, as well as worldwide stadium bans and criminal charges for racists," he said.

After the game, Maignan told Sky Sports Italy: "I said we cannot play football like this. It is not the first time it has happened this way. They must hand out very strong sanctions, because talking no longer does anything.

"We have to say that what they are doing is wrong. It is not the whole crowd, most fans want to cheer on their team and jeer you, that's normal, but not this."

And in an emotional post on X (formerly Twitter), he added: "The spectators who were in the stand, who saw everything, who heard everything but who chose to remain silent, you are complicit."

Also on X, Palmer wrote: "Disappointed to even have to come on here & write this. Racism is a disgrace... it has no place in the world, let alone football. I'm black and proud and I am raising my three kids to be the exact same. I'll be honest, it feels like things will never change, no matter how hard we try.

And he added: "Couple fans doing monkey chants don't define a fan base – I appreciate all the love and support I've received."

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