PARIS, Jan 22 — The racist abuse suffered by AC Milan goalkeeper Mike Maignan at Udinese and Coventry midfielder Kasey Palmer in an English second division match at Sheffield Wednesday were just the latest examples of the ugliness plaguing football.

Fifa chief Gianni Infantino described the incidents as “totally abhorrent” and demanded the implementation of an automatic forfeit of games for teams whose fans commit racist abuse.

AFP Sport looks at the issues in Europe’s top five leagues:



Racism in Italian stadiums is nothing new, but several incidents have recently been highly publicised, due to the personalities or reactions of the players targeted.

Marc-Andre Zoro of Ivory Coast was one of the first to take a stand in 2005 when he picked up the ball and prepared to leave the pitch. At the time, his Messina teammates convinced him to return to the game.

Stars like Samuel Eto’o, Kevin-Prince Boateng, Mario Balotelli and most recently Romelu Lukaku have been victims of racism from supporters.


Saturday’s incident was depressingly familiar for French international Maignan — in 2021, he was targeted by Juventus supporters.

“I am neither the first nor the last to whom this will happen. As long as these events are treated as ‘isolated incidents’,” Maignan said.


Real Madrid’s Brazilian striker Vinicius Jr has been the target of recurring racism.

After he was hung in effigy from a bridge in the Spanish capital by Atletico fans last year, four people being charged with a hate crime.

In June, Fifa chief Gianni Infantino met with Vinicius to defend the player and sent out a message to referees to tackle the issue all the way up to national level.

Barcelona’s Samuel Eto’o endured a barrage of vitriol from Zaragoza fans in 2005, being subject to monkey chants and having peanuts thrown at him.

Eto’o danced in front of his tormentors after scoring in a 4-1 win.

“I danced like a monkey because they treated me like a monkey,” said the Cameroon star. Zaragoza were fined just €9,000.

In 2014, after a banana was thrown at him, Brazil’s Dani Alves, picked it up and ate it slowly before taking a corner.


England internationals Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka, three black players, were all targeted after missing their penalties in the Euro-2021 final against Italy.

In October 2023 the English football authorities launched another campaign against racism.

They vowed to “continue to put pressure on social media companies to do more to eliminate hate from their platforms.”

However, Coventry’s Palmer was doubtful of any lasting improvement.

“Racism is a disgrace... it has no place in the world, let alone football,” he wrote on X.

“I’m black and proud and I am raising my three kids to be the exact same. I’ll be honest, it feels like things will never change, no matter how hard we try.”


Ligue 1 has recently suffered several episodes of violence between football hooligans, but racist behaviour appears rarer than in Spain or Italy.

A recent incident, however, caused great debate. Two Lyon supporters are being prosecuted for making Nazi salutes and shouting racist abuse at Marseille in October last year.

A few days earlier, in the third division, a Nancy supporter made monkey chants during a match against Red Star. The club identified the individual and handed him a five-year stadium ban.


Germany has cleaned up its stadiums, at least in the Bundesliga, but racism is expressed on social media.

In 2023, Bayern published statements of support for French players Dayot Upamecano and Mathys Tel, victims of online attacks after poor performances.

The last serious incident in the stands dates back to 2021, and also demonstrates the sensitivity of the Germans on the issue.

A third-division match was called off after half an hour following monkey chants from a spectator. Both clubs, Duisburg and Osnabruck, backed the decision. — AFP