Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 21 November 2019

Romelu Lukaku racially abused before scoring winning goal for Inter Milan at Cagliari

Belgian striker calls for more action from world football authorities after being subjected to monkey chants during Serie A clash

Romelu Lukaku, second left, scored the winner against Cagliari, but was subjected to monkey chants as he stepped up to take the penalty. Getty
Romelu Lukaku, second left, scored the winner against Cagliari, but was subjected to monkey chants as he stepped up to take the penalty. Getty

Italian football is again under the spotlight for racist abuse of players after Inter Milan's Romelu Lukaku was subjected to monkey chants by fans during his team's 2-1 at Cagliari.

The Belgian striker – a €70 million (Dh285.5m) summer signing from Manchester United – was preparing to take the spot-kick in the 71st minute in Sardinia on Sunday when the abuse came from the stands that continued for several seconds.

Lukaku, 26, angrily looked towards the stands before confidently converting his second goal in as many games, which came after Lautaro Martinez's 28th minute opener for Juve and Joao Pedro's leveller for the hosts, four minutes after the break.

Lukaku was quickly surrounded by his teammates as Inter won their second from two league matches to move top of Serie A, ahead of champions Juventus, who also are on maximum points following their thrilling 4-3 win over Napoli on Saturday.

"Cagliari have history for this," said European football's anti-discrimination body Fare, yet neither Cagliari nor Inter Milan made any mention of the incident on their official websites after the match.

It was mentioned by Italian media but did not make the front pages of any of the three main sporting newspapers.

Yesterday, Lukaku released a statement calling on football federations and social media platforms to do more to fight racism.

"Many players in the last month have suffered from racial abuse. I did yesterday too," Lukaku said on Instagram. "Football is a game to be enjoyed and we shouldn't accept any form of discrimination that will put our game in shame.

"I hope the football federations all over the world react strongly on all cases of discrimination.

"Social media platforms (Instagram, Twitter, Facebook) need to work better as well with football clubs because every day you see at least a racist comment under a post of a person of colour. We've been saying it for years and still no action.

"Ladies and gentlemen it's 2019 – instead of going forwards we're going backwards ... As players we need to unify and make a statement on this matter to keep this game clean and enjoyable for everyone."

Racist abuse has been a regular problem at Italian stadiums in recent years.

In April, Juventus forward Moise Kean was subjected to similar treatment after scoring for the Turin side in a 2-0 win against Cagliari.

Serie A's disciplinary panel took no action against Cagliari on that occasion, saying the insults were "certainly reprehensible" but that they had limited relevance and perception. However, it fined Kean for diving in the penalty area earlier in the game.

Cagliari president Tommaso Giulini and the then Juve manager Massimiliano Allegri both said Kean should shoulder the responsibility for celebrating in front of Cagliari supporters.

"What happened at the end was because of a celebration which was wrong and it would have happened with any other player," Giulini said. Allegri suggested Kean "shouldn't have celebrated in that manner", although he did call on the Italian FA to take action.

The Italian's team-mate Leonardo Bonucci said "the blame is 50-50" between Kean and Cagliari fans.

In January last year, Cagliari apologised to Juventus midfielder Blaise Matuidi after he was subjected to racist abuse.

Kalidou Koulibaly was showered with monkey chants last season by Lukaku's new fans at the San Siro.

Napoli manager Carlo Ancelotti said the referee repeatedly ignored Napoli’s request to stop the game. Repeated requests were made to the crowd over the stadium’s loudspeaker in an attempt stop the racist chanting.

“There was a strange atmosphere, as we asked three times for play to be suspended, they had announcements with the speaker three times,” said the Napoli manager. "We asked three times for some action to be taken, but the match continued. We keep being told play can be halted, but when? After four or five announcements? Maybe we have to take matters into our own hands next time and stop play ourselves."

In May 2017, Pescara's Ghanaian midfielder Sulley Muntari walked off the pitch, also complaining of racist abuse at the ground. Serie A took no action against Cagliari, saying that not enough fans took part in the abuse to trigger action.

Muntari, who received a second yellow card for his protest, was subsequently given a one-game ban.

Updated: September 2, 2019 06:52 PM

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