Milan, Italy: Lazio have hit out at the "excessive" sanctions handed down by European football's ruling body UEFA that mean they have to play their next two home Europa League games behind closed doors.
The sanctions, announced by UEFA on Wedensday, relate to incidents during Lazio's recent 2-0 win over German side Borussia Moenchengladbach in the last 32 of the Europa League.
Lazio will now entertain Stuttgart in their last 16 return leg on March 14 in an empty Olympic stadium, and if they progress, fans will also be excluded from the home leg of their quarter-final.
The club were also fined 40,000 euros (52,000 dollars) for their fans' racist behaviour and letting off smoke bombs during the Moenchengladbach match.
Lazio had already been in trouble with UEFA earlier this season following racist incidents during both legs of their Europa League ties against Premier League side Tottenham.
Those incidents prompted UEFA to send observers to Lazio's last home game and they reported several hundred Lazio fans making Roman salutes -- which resemble the Nazi salute -- during Moenchengladbach's visit on February 21.
Lazio president Claudio Lotito claims he is taking a firm stance against the club's hardcore support, many of whom are reputed to have far right sympathies.
And in a statement on Lazio's website www.ssclazio.it, Lotito said: "We respect UEFA's decision but we believe the sanctions are excessive in light of what actually happened during the game."
He says Lazio now plan to appeal.
"We are confident that our appeal will show the events in a different light and that we did everything we could to stop this happening," added the statement.
"We do not believe we should be punished like this for the behaviour of a minority."