Events in Bulgaria add pressure to UEFA ahead of Lazio verdict

By Hamish Carton

October 15, 2019

Events in Bulgaria on Monday night mean that the pressure is firmly on UEFA today as they get set to determine the punishment dished out to Celtic’s Europa League rivals Lazio.

England’s 6-0 victory in Sofia was marred by several cases of racist behaviour with the match halted twice during the first-half. The game did reach its conclusion eventually but only after a message had been put through on the stadium PA and Gareth Southgate had been involved in lengthy discussions with the referee.

(Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

Europe’s governing body have been criticised widely in the past for failing to tackle racism properly, with nominal fines or partial stadium closures normally the order of the day. But now they may finally be forced to take the issue seriously.

And that could have a knock-on effect for Celtic’s Europa League group. Italian giants Lazio are facing a charge of alleged racism following a recent European clash against Rennes.

(Photo by Matteo Ciambelli/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

UEFA may come down hard on Lazio to prove a point

Yesterday we told you how UEFA had brought forward their judgement from Thursday to Tuesday. There are a number of possible punishments with stadium closure one of the most severe. Such a closure would be in effect for the Serie A side’s next home European match – which happens to be against Celtic.

Hoops fans have already snapped up around 9,000 tickets for the event but any closure would affect both them and the home support.

(Photo by Valerio Pennicino – UEFA/UEFA via Getty Images)

It will be interesting to see if UEFA’s stance is affected by what happened in Bulgaria on Monday. Europe’s governing body won’t want to be seen to skirt around the issue of racism. Taking proper action against Lazio would show that they are taking things seriously this time.

While that is of course the right route to go down, it could have a pretty damning effect on Celtic fans who have already purchased tickets.