Rome

Soccer: Lazio forced to play two home games with no fans

Club president calls racism penalty 'incredible, groundless'

Soccer: Lazio forced to play two home games with no fans

Rome, February 27 - The Lazio soccer club said Wednesday it has been forced to play its next two home games in the Europa League behind closed doors after a reported act of racism at a match last Thursday against Germany's Borussia Moenchengladbach. Lazio club president Claudio Lotito denounced the penalty as "incredible" and said accusers had "invented facts". The penalty from the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) comes after a match when Lazio fans reportedly gave a Nazi straight-armed salute. The UEFA's disciplinary body, which has yet to make a statement, was slated to meet to discuss the matter Wednesday. Defenders of Lazio suggest it was merely a militaristic salute. But Lazio fans are already under fire for previous racist incidents. In one case, Lazio fans were accused of anti-Semitic abuse against Tottenham Hotspur supporters during a Europa League match in Rome last November.

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