Mike Maignan speaks out after walking off pitch following racist abuse | Football

The match was briefly suspended after Maignan reported the incident (Pictures: TNT / Getty)

Mike Maignan says he was subjected to monkey noises and racist abuse before walking off the pitch during AC Milan’s victory over Udinese on Saturday and has called for greater sanctions from the Italian football authorities.

The Rossoneri won 3-2 in Udine thanks to a stoppage-time strike from Noah Okafor having been behind in the match until the 83rd minute, though the result was rather insignificant.

In the middle of the first half, Maignan informed both referee Fabio Maresca and the fourth official that he was receiving racist abuse from the home fans behind his goal.

As per protocol, a statement was read out over the tannoy at the Bluenergy Stadium warning that a continuation of the behaviour would result in the match being suspended.

When the monkey chants persisted, Maignan alerted the referee again who called a temporary halt to the match and the French goalkeeper – who was understandably furious – stormed down the tunnel back to the dressing room.

He threw off his gloves as he did so and had to be calmed down by his team-mates as well as some of the Udinese players, while others went over to the fans and urged them to stop the chanting.

Although the two teams did return to the pitch after around five minutes to continue the match, Maignan was livid afterwards and says, even though it was a small minority of Udinese fans, more must be done to combat the problem of racism in Italian football.

Mike Maignan walks off after racist abuse in AC Milan's win over Udinese

Maignan complained about the abuse to referee Fabio Maresca (Picture: Getty)

‘What happened in the first half is that at the first goal kick I heard monkey noises, I said nothing,’ he explained to Sky Sport Italia when asked what prompted the walk-off.

‘The second time I went to get the ball, I heard it again. I told our bench and the fourth official what happened and he told the referee, who stopped the game.

‘I said we cannot play football like this. It is not the first time it has happened this way.

‘We have to say that what they are doing is wrong. It is not the whole crowd, most fans want to cheer on their team and jeer you, that’s normal, but not this. It cannot happen.’

On the support he received from his team-mates after walking off the pitch, he continued: ‘We have a very strong group, we are a family and everyone came over to support me.

‘We came back out wanting to work even harder to win, because the best response is to win.’

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