Milan, January 21, 2024, The Europe Today: AC Milan goalkeeper, Mike Maignan, took a powerful stand against racism during a Serie A match against Udinese on Saturday, briefly leaving the pitch in protest of repeated racist chants from local fans. Maignan alerted the referee before temporarily leaving the field, and his teammates joined him in the tunnel before returning after a few minutes to resume the match, which AC Milan won 3-2.
In an interview with Sky Sports Italy, Maignan expressed his frustration, stating, “I said we cannot play football like this. It is not the first time it has happened this way.” The goalkeeper emphasized the need for strong sanctions to combat racism, highlighting that talking alone no longer suffices.
“FIFA president Gianni Infantino showed his solidarity with Maignan and called for measures to be taken in cases of racism,” mentioning the events in Udine and Sheffield Wednesday as “totally abhorrent and completely unacceptable.” Infantino proposed stricter measures, including automatic defeat for the team whose fans commit racism, worldwide stadium bans, and criminal charges for offenders.
Maignan described hearing monkey noises during the match and stated, “I was angry because this isn’t the first time it has happened. I did not want to play, but we are a family, and I could not leave my teammates like that.”
The incident in Italy follows reports of Coventry midfielder Kasey Palmer accusing Sheffield Wednesday fans of racist chants during their English Championship clash. FIFA’s call for decisive actions reflects the determination to eradicate racism from football and society, emphasizing the importance of unity and support for players affected by such events.