Celtic players ‘encouraged’ to take drastic action if targeted by Lazio racism

Neil Lennon has said he would ‘encourage’ his players to walk off the pitch if they are subjected to racist abuse.

The Celtic boss was speaking in the wake of Lazio’s partial stadium closure for the Hoops’ Europa League visit.

Lazio have been hit with the sanctions, with a threat of a full shutdown, over their fans racist behaviour when a section made fascist gestures during the match against Rennes.

Lennon said: “I would not discourage any player from walking off the pitch if he’s getting racially abused,” reports the BBC.

The manager has been on the brunt of racist abuse from the stands plenty of times himself. He says that racism is rearing it’s “ugly head” again and backs his players in any action they take.

He continued: “I think I would encourage it because it’s pointing out that there is a wrong here. We all have to do a little bit more to prevent it and for individuals it’s personnel and it’s very, very hurtful.”

“It’s awful. It’s just rearing it’s ugly head again. It’s embarrassing for the individual countries and the individual associations and the people who run those associations as well.

“I mean, the scenes in Bulgaria [during England’s match in Sofia] looked like it was all premeditated as well with the way they were dressed and behaving.

“How these guys get into the stadium in the first place – that needs to be looked at.”

Lazio ultras hit out at the punishment, but the club have rejected the criticism, insisting the only reason they avoided a full stadium closure was because they promised a zero-tolerance crackdown.

The Italian side has a long history of problems with racists in the Curva Nord section of the ground, which will be closed for Celtic’s visit. Any further incidents could prove the last straw before they have to play behind closed doors.

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