AC Milan goalkeeper Mike Maignan walked off the field after being subjected to racist chants by Udinese fans during an Italian Serie A match in Udine, Italy, on Saturday — prompting the match to be suspended briefly during the first half.
Shortly after Milan had scored to take a 1-0 lead and Milan were about to take a goal kick, Maignan signaled to his teammates to stop, walked to the referee and then walked to the sideline.
Following the game, he called for tough sanctions for those responsible.
“They made monkey noises and it’s not the first time it’s happened to me,” the 28-year-old Maignan told DAZN.
“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.”
Teammates attempted to console Maignan on the sideline, but the France international took his gloves off and walked down the tunnel leading off the field.
Maignan, who is Black, had also told the referee about racist monkey chants earlier during the match, prompting an announcement in the stadium asking fans to stop.
The Serie A game resumed about five minutes after the suspension when Maignan and teammates came back out.
Milan won 3-2.
“I was upset to have to go into the changing room like that but I had everyone’s support,” Maignan said. “We talked and then we made the decision to go back out onto the field and make the appropriate response — to win this game.”
“I really didn’t want to play anymore. … But we’re a family and I couldn’t leave my teammates like that.”
FIFA president Gianni Infantino showed his solidarity with Maignan and called for measures to be taken in cases of racism.
“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,” he said in a statement.
“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 added.
Media reports stated Coventry midfielder Kasey Palmer accused Sheffield Wednesday fans of racist chants during their English Championship clash, which his team won 2-1.
In a post on X, formerly Twitter, Milan said: “There is absolutely no place in our game for racism: we are appalled. We are with you, Mike.”
“Lega Serie A condemns any form of racism,” the official Serie A account posted on X.
Udinese will likely be hit with a partial stadium closure for its next home match.
Maignan was also subjected to racist chants in a match at Cagliari two seasons ago.
There have been racist incidents in Italian and European soccer for years; in Italy, fans have aimed racist abuse at Kevin-Prince Boateng, Mario Balotelli and Romelu Lukaku, among others.