UNESCO, French authorities condemn racist abuse of Matuidi

Juventus' Federico Bernardeschi, 2nd right, celebrates with teammates, from left, Giorgio Chiellini, Douglas Costa and Blaise Matuidi after scoring during the Serie A soccer match between Cagliari and Juventus in Cagliari, Italy, Saturday, Jan. 6, 2018. (Fabio Murru/ANSA via AP)

PARIS (AP) 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 offense at the club over the next year.