UNESCO, French authorities condemn racist abuse of Juve’s Matuidi

Juventus’ Blaise Matuidi celebrates with his teammate Paulo Dybala, left, after scoring during the Serie A soccer match between Hellas Verona and Juventus, at the Bentegodi stadium in Verona, Italy, Saturday, Dec. 30, 2017. (Filippo Venezia/ANSA via AP)

PARIS — The head of UNESCO and the French sports minister are backing Juventus midfielder Blaise Matuidi, who said he was racially abused last weekend.

In a joint statement issued on Monday, Audrey Azoulay and Laura Flessel expressed "the strongest condemnation of the racial slurs" aimed at the Juventus and France midfielder.

Azoulay and Flessel met on Monday for a working session. UNESCO and Juventus have been working together since 2014 with initiatives aimed at fighting racism.

Matuidi said he was abused during his side’s 1-0 win at Cagliari in Serie A on Saturday. The incident came two days after Hellas Verona was punished for its fans hurling racist chants at Matuidi the week before.

Matuidi was born in France to an Angolan father and a Congolese mother.

Verona was fined 20,000 euros ($24,000) for the Dec. 30 incident but a partial stadium closure will come into effect only if there is another racism offence at the club over the next year.