AC Milan Mike Maignan, racist, soccer

AC Milan Goalie Has Enough, Walks Off Field Due To Racist Heckling

AC Milan Goalie Mike Maignan speaks out against the ongoing racism at European football matches.

The goalie for AC Milan, Mike Maignan, has had enough racist heckling from fans at games. During a match on Jan. 20 against Udinese Calcio’s football club at the Dacia Arena in Udine, Italy, the taunts led Maignan to walk off the field–and his teammates followed him. According to Forbes, fans were persistent in spewing out racist rhetoric toward the Black French goalie, prompting Maignan to inform the officials while walking off the field. 

“What happened in the first half is that at the first goal-kick, I heard monkey noises, I said nothing,” explained Maignan. “The second time I went to get the ball, I heard it again. I told the fourth official and my bench what happened.”

Typically, in the sport, players leaving should indicate to fans that their behavior must be remedied. However, the AC Milan athlete continued explaining that this act was not enough to change some fans’ racist motivations, and he should not be punished by abstaining from play due to this ongoing racism

“I was upset to have to go into the changing room like that, but I had everyone’s support,” shared the athlete. “I said we cannot play football like this. It is not the first time it has happened this way. They must hand out very strong sanctions because talking no longer does anything.”

The issue of how teams like AC Milan, officials, and FIFA itself handle racial injustice at games is gaining traction after decades of ongoing abuse in this matter by fans toward players of color, specifically Black ones. While the current resolution to leave the stadium remains the same, so does the consistent racist language hurled at players. Despite Italian soccer clubs releasing statements and campaigns that denounce racism, FIFA itself has claimed that it will take further action to ensure the issue has an actual means to an end. 

“As well as the three-step process (match stopped, match re-stopped, match abandoned), we have to implement an automatic forfeit for the team whose fans have committed racism and caused the match to be abandoned, as well as worldwide stadium bans and criminal charges for racists,” stated Gianni Infantino, the president of FIFA.

However, whether or not this stance will come with new requirements for games to resolve issues of racial heckling better remains to be seen.

RELATED CONTENT: André Swanston Principal Owner Of Major League Soccer’s NEXT Pro Connecticut Expansion Team