- Associated Press - Friday, March 11, 2016

NYON, Switzerland (AP) - In the latest racist incident involving Lazio fans, UEFA charged the Italian club on Friday after disruption at a Europa League match.

Lazio fans reportedly aimed racist chants at Sparta Prague defender Costa Nhamoinesu, who is black and from Zimbabwe.

The referee stopped play in the first half of a 1-1 draw in Prague on Thursday for a warning to be broadcast to Italian fans.

UEFA guidance on racial abuse requires referees to order public warnings as a first step toward possibly abandoning a match.

UEFA said it charged Lazio with “racist behavior” by fans, plus “illicit chants” and displaying an offensive banner.

Lazio faces a fine and closure of at least part of its home stadium for UEFA matches when the governing body’s disciplinary committee judges the case on March 22.

Sparta was also charged with fans showing an offensive banner and lighting fireworks in the stadium.

Before the hearing, Lazio hosts Sparta next Thursday in the second leg to decide who advances to the quarterfinals.

Lazio was sanctioned several times by UEFA in the 2012-13 season for fans’ offensive behavior at Europa League matches.

Last month, Lazio fans racially abused Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly during a 2-0 home loss in Serie A. That match was suspended for four minutes by the referee to try to control the abuse, and Lazio was punished with closure of sections of the Stadio Olimpico at future matches.

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