Milan display Martin Luther King quote in racism protest

"Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that,"

Power of words: A quote by Martin Luther King is displayed on a giant screen at the San Siro. Photo: © Piero CRUCIATTI / AFP

Milan (AFP):  AC Milan brought their match with Bologna to a brief halt on Saturday, summoning inspiration from American civil rights icon Martin Luther King to demonstrate solidarity with goalkeeper Mike Maignan who was racially abused last weekend.

The fixture was stopped in the 16th minute in honour of Maignan's shirt number while a famous King quote was displayed on the San Siro's big screens.

"Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that," read the message.

Fans held up their phone lights while warm applause spread across the stands at the stadium.

France international Maignan was abused by Udinese fans last weekend, an incident that made international headlines despite similar episodes being a regular occurence in Italian football.

Udinese have banned a small number of supporters identified as having racially insulted Maignan, but they are appealing a one-match stadium closure handed down as punishment.

The Udinese match was not the first time that Maignan has been racially abused by supporters in Italy after he was targeted by a Juventus fan in September 2021.

Last weekend the 28-year-old challenged Italy's football authorities by saying that "if you do nothing, you will also be complicit".

Italy, a country governed by a coalition led by the far-right Brothers of Italy party, is rife with fascist football fan groups, in particular among the hardcore "ultras" who make most of the atmosphere at stadiums.