AC Milan goalkeeper Mike Maignan says too many people are “complicit” in allowing racism to continue in football.
Mike Maignan, goalkeeper for Italian club AC Milan, has called for an end to racist abuse in football.
Meanwhile, FIFA president Gianni Infantino suggested there should be “an automatic forfeit” for any team “whose fans have committed acts of racism”.
Maignan, who is black, left after being abused by Udinese fans during an Italian league match on Saturday. His exit led to the game being suspended briefly in the first half.
The goalkeeper later told sports streaming service DAZN that he had been subjected to monkey noises.
He provided a strongly worded response on Sunday.
“It is not the player who was attacked. He is the man, he is the father. This isn’t the first time this has happened to me and I’m not the first person this has happened to,” Maignan wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter.
“We have had declarations, advertising campaigns, protocols and nothing has changed. Today it is a whole system that must assume its responsibilities.”
Maignan argues that not enough has yet been done to eradicate racial abuse. “[…] if you don’t act you will also be complicit,” he wrote.
The 28-year-old Maignan, France’s top goalkeeper, said those who witness racist incidents should report the perpetrators and that Udinese should have acted more firmly to crack down on abuse.
“The fans in the stands, who saw everything, who heard everything but decided to remain silent, you are complicit – continued Maignan on X. “Udinese, who only talked about interrupting the match, as if nothing had happened, you are accomplices.”
Maignan also informed the referee about the monkeys’ songs at the start of the match. After being stopped, play resumed approximately five minutes later.
Racism ruins European football
For years there have been numerous incidents of racism in Italian and European football, with cases in Italy targeting, among others, Kevin-Prince Boateng, Mario Balotelli and Romelu Lukaku.
Infantino called the latest incident “totally abhorrent and completely unacceptable” and said world football’s governing body should implement tougher punishments.
“We need ALL stakeholders to take action, starting with education in schools, so that future generations understand that this is not part of football or society,” he wrote in a statement on X.
“In addition to the three-step process (match abandoned, match restarted, match abandoned), we must implement an automatic forfeit for the team whose fans committed acts of racism and caused the match to be abandoned, as well as stadium bans around the world . and criminal charges for racists.”
Maignan’s French teammate, Kylian Mbappé, posted a message of support for Maignan.
“We are all with you,” Mbappé wrote on X. “Always the same problems and still no solution. Enough is enough.”
Maignan, whose brilliant performances helped Milan win the Serie A title in 2022, praised those who helped him succeed.
“I would like to thank once again my club, Milan, my teammates, the referee, the Udinese players who sent me messages, who called me, who supported me privately and publicly,” Maignan said before to conclude. “It is a difficult fight, which will require time and courage. But it’s a battle we will win.”
Udinese also released a statement on Sunday.
“Udinese deeply regrets and condemns any act of racism and violence,” the club said. “We reaffirm our aversion to any form of discrimination and express our profound solidarity with AC Milan player Mike Maignan in light of the deplorable incident that occurred in our stadium on Saturday.
“Udinese will collaborate with all the investigating authorities to guarantee the immediate clarification of the incident, with the aim of adopting every necessary measure to punish those responsible. As an institution we will continue to work with commitment, as we have always done, to promote diversity and integration of all ethnicities, cultures and languages among our players, staff, fans and city.”