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Udinese appeal stadium closure for racist abuse of Maignan

Udinese have appealed against being forced to play one match behind closed doors as punishment for fans racially abusing France goalkeeper Mike Maignan last weekend.

The Serie A club, who have since banned five fans for life, were hit with the sanction after Maignan was repeatedly racially abused in the first half of Saturday’s 3-2 defeat to AC Milan.

“We reflected for a large part of the day whether or not to present an appeal,” said Udinese CEO Franco Collavino in a statement released on Wednesday night.

“Having looked at the documents however we realised that we had to act to protect the reputation of our club, which has historically been multi-ethnic, and the efforts we have made to go after the perpetrators.”

Collavino also said the punishment handed down by Serie A was unfair due to the small number of people who abused Maignan, in contrast to other episodes in Italy which have involved thousands of supporters.

“We want to defend our supporters, who have been unfairly treated by a ruling that punishes an entire fan base for the appalling actions of a small number of people,” added Collavino.

Saturday was not the first time that Maignan has been racially abused by supporters in Italy after he was targeted by a Juventus fan in September 2021.

On Sunday the 28-year-old challenged Italy’s football authorities on Sunday by saying that “if you do nothing, you will also be complicit”.

Italy, a country governed by a coalition led by the far-right Brothers of Italy party, is rife with fascist football fan groups, in particular among the hardcore “ultras” who make most of the atmosphere at stadiums.

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