Lazio fined $190K for fans' racist abuse

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NYON, Switzerland (AP) -- Lazio has avoided being ordered by UEFA to play a Europa League match in an empty stadium despite a third conviction for racist abuse by fans this season.

UEFA said on Wednesday it fined Lazio €140,000 ($190,000) and deferred a stadium closure "for a probationary period of two years."

Lazio was found guilty of racist behavior among a range of offenses relating to its home match against Tottenham on Nov. 22 and a game in Slovenia against Maribor on Dec. 6.

This season, UEFA fined the Italian club €40,000 (then $52,300) for its fans' racist behavior when it first played Tottenham in the group stage, in London in September.

UEFA's disciplinary panel ruling will stir further debate on the severity of sanctions for incidents involving racism and discrimination inside stadiums.

FIFA President Sepp Blatter has said clubs and national teams should have points deducted as a deterrent.

Still, FIFA did not deduct World Cup qualifying points from Bulgaria and Hungary this month in racist abuse cases. Both teams will play their next home qualifier in an empty stadium.

Lazio has a Europa League home match at the Olympic Stadium in Rome on Feb. 21 against Borussia Moenchengladbach in the second leg of a last-32 meeting.

UEFA also fined Tottenham €10,000 ($13,570) and Maribor €17,000 ($23,070) for crowd disturbances at the same matches.

The clubs can appeal all sanctions.