Mike Maignan, Milan players walks off pitch after alleged racial abuse in Serie A match at Udinese

The first half of Milan’s match against Udinese on Saturday was marred by alleged racist chants directed at Milan goalkeeper Mike Maignan by Udinese fans. After Maigan addressed referee Fabio Maresca about the incident, he then left the pitch with his teammates and the match was suspended for 10 minutes with Milan ahead 1-0. 

During the intermission, Milan posted a brief statement of support for their goalkeeper:

“There is absolutely no place in our game for racism: we are appalled,” the club said. “We are with you, Mike.” 

Maignan speaks out

After the match, Maignan spoke to Milan TV about the incident saying that he heard monkey noises from the fans.

“I heard them making monkey noises,” he said. “The first time, I didn’t say anything. The second time, I went to to the dugout to inform them of what had happened behind the goal. This shouldn’t exist in the world of football but, unfortunately, for many years this is a recurrence,” Maignan said. “We all have to react, we must do something because you can’t play like this. OK, we accept the boos because that’s how it is away from home but this issue of racism must not reach this level.”    

Maignan previously received abuse in an away match against Cagliari last season alongside defender Fikayo Tomori which led to a melee between both sets of players. Milan did come back to win the match against Udinese via a stoppage-time goal from Noah Okafor in the 93rd minute of play.

Signs of support

There have also been messages of support for Maignan that have come since the game. 

“You are very far from being alone Mike Maignan. We are all with you,” PSG superstar and France national team teammate Kylian Mbappe said. “Still the same problems and still NO solution. Enough is enough.”

USMNT internationals Christian Pulisic, Yunus Musah and Tim Weah also showed support on their Instagram stories. Pulisic and Musah are teammates of the Milan man while Weah plays for their Scudetto rival Juventus.

Serie A also condemned all forms of racism

There was another incident in the world of soccer on Saturday in the match between Coventry City and Sheffield Wednesday, which prompted a statement from FIFA.

“The events that took place in Udine and Sheffield on Saturday are totally abhorrent and completely unacceptable. There is no place for racism or any form of discrimination — both in football and in society. The players affected by Saturday’s events have my undivided support,” FIFA president Gianni Infantino said. “We need all the relevant stakeholders to take action, starting with education in schools so that future generations understand that this is not part of football or society.”

Infantino also called for the implementation of an automatic forfeit as part of the match stoppage process where on the third incident of a match being stopped currently it is abandoned. It remains to be seen whether an investigation comes about and what punishments are potentially handed down to alleged abusers.

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