Lazio punished for fans' racist behaviour

By Sports Desk October 16, 2019

Lazio have been ordered to play one UEFA competition home match in a partially closed stadium following the racist behaviour of their fans against Rennes in the Europa League.

The supporters were alleged to have engaged in racist chanting at Stadio Olimpico, as Lazio came from behind to win 2-1 on October 3.

UEFA's Control, Ethics and Disciplinary Body has since found them guilty and ordered the partial closure of their stadium – specifically sections 46, 47, 48 and 49 – and the displaying of an 'Equal Game banner' for their next Europa League match.

Lazio must also pay a €20,000 fine and have been handed a suspended one-match UEFA stadium ban, which will only come into effect if they are found in breach again over the next year.

The Serie A were seemingly made aware of the sanctions a day earlier on Tuesday, acknowledging they were to be imposed because of "the hateful racist acts performed by a few".

Lazio also confirmed they plan to prosecute those responsible, continuing a "zero tolerance" policy against racism.

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    Barcelona are set to be without Gerard Pique once again after the club confirmed he suffered a knee ligament injury shortly after his Copa del Rey heroics against Sevilla. 

    Pique's stoppage-time header after the 90-minute mark in Wednesday's semi-final second leg saw Barca wipe out Sevilla's 2-0 lead from the first meeting last month, with Ousmane Dembele having struck early on. 

    Barca went on to win 3-0 after extra time, Martin Braithwaite getting the decisive goal five minutes after the restart to leave Sevilla – who had Fernando set off just before Pique's header – on the receiving end of a commendable comeback. 

    But it seemingly came at a cost, with Pique appearing to hurt his knee in extra time when he was forced into an awkward turn while passing back to Marc-Andre ter Stegen, who had earlier saved a penalty from Lucas Ocampos when the score was 1-0.

    Pique went down holding his knee only to eventually see out the game, suggesting the issue was not a particularly serious one. 

    But Barca confirmed on Thursday that further examinations have revealed a sprain to the internal lateral ligament in his right knee. 

    While the club said the length of his absence will be dependent on his recovery, such sprains can mean a six-week absence. 

    That could potentially rule him out of El Clasico on April 10, while it seems a strong possibility Pique will miss the second leg of Barca's Champions League last-16 tie away to Paris Saint-Germain next week. 

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  • Fernandes success would not have been easy for Pogba, says Nani Fernandes success would not have been easy for Pogba, says Nani

    Bruno Fernandes being hailed as the signing who turned around Manchester United's fortunes would have been difficult for Paul Pogba to take, according to Nani.

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    "And Bruno is part of the team so now they look like more of a strong team. 

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    Pogba has just over one year left on his current contract and agent Mino Raiola said in December his client wanted to leave United.

    While Raiola later backtracked somewhat during the January transfer window, he insisted he would still push for a transfer at the end of the season, though the club have talked about a new deal.

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    "At this moment, I see him as one of the important players at Man United," Nani said about Pogba.

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    Pogba has been out of action for a month since suffering a thigh injury in the dramatic 3-3 draw with Everton.

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    That was their sixth goalless Premier League draw of the season, their joint-most ever in a season, along with 2004-05 and 2016-17.

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  • Man United was the best school in my life once I understood Ferguson – Nani Man United was the best school in my life once I understood Ferguson – Nani

    Manchester United became the best "school" in Nani's life once he learned how to work with Alex Ferguson – but crossing that bridge was not easy for the former Portugal star.

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    His first season had some memorable highs, as he highlighted his penchant for a spectacular goal or two with long-range strikes against Middlesbrough and Tottenham, while also helping United to a Premier League and Champions League double, scoring in the penalty shootout that secured European glory.

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    "Boss!" replied a visibly shocked but joyous Nani, still seeing the Scot as a person of authority despite being out of the game for three years at this point. The pair hugged and exchanged a few words before Ferguson sent his former player on his way.

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    Now 34 and in MLS with Orlando City as he approaches the end of an illustrious career, Nani may feel he could have achieved even more on a personal level at United.

    But being shaped by a man as revered as Ferguson is a claim to fame in itself.

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