Inter Milan striker Romelu Lukaku became the latest soccer player to endure racist chants from rival fans, and he called leagues to action on Monday to finally put this stain on the sport to an end.
In Sunday’s game against Cagliari, Lukaku was lined up for a penalty kick, and fans can clearly be heard making monkey chants with at least one fan being heard calling him a monkey.
After staring at the fans, Lukaku went on to score, which proved to be the decisive goal in Inter’s 2-1 victory.
This is just the latest instance of racist abuse from European soccer fans, and the announcers were clearly fed up as well.
Lukaku: ‘We’re going backwards’
The 26-year-old Lukaku is a big star and used this moment as a chance to try to make an impact. And he’s not the only one to do so.
Inter coach Antonio Conte said after Sunday’s game that Italian fans need to “improve a lot and be more educated,” and Lukaku released his own message on Monday morning in an Instagram and Twitter post.
Lukaku felt in particular that the different soccer leagues are not doing enough to stop this behavior. That it's not just Cagliari fans and it’s not just Italian fans; it’s pervasive around the sport.
Not only are fans a problem in stadiums, but racist comments are almost impossible to avoid for players. Anyone who has briefly glanced at comment sections on YouTube, Twitter or other social media websites can attest to that.
Lukaku is only the latest victim of racist abuse
Although black soccer players have faced racist abuse across many leagues, Cagliari has been especially problematic over the last four years.
Cagliari had another embarrassing incident last year when fans again made monkey noises whenever Juventus striker Moise Kean touched the ball, which led groups to call on the Italian Football Federation to give more punitive punishments to fans and teams.
Cagliari fans also targeted Blaise Matuidi and Sulley Muntari with similar abuse, and little has changed.
Even beyond monkey chants, European fans have been known to throw banana peels onto pitches. In 2018, a 57-year-old was banned from Tottenham Hotspur games for life and charged with throwing an object on the field, although police deemed it not racially motivated.
Serie A’s response to Lukaku incident
The Italian top flight is reportedly taking action, however little.
Per Rob Harris of the Associated Press:
Fallout from racial abuse of Lukaku: Serie A asking each of its 20 teams to nominate a player to join a body being launched next month in an attempt to stamp out racism from Italian football— Rob Harris (@RobHarris) September 2, 2019
Serie A on new anti-racism drive after abuse of Lukaku: "Everyone's commitment will be needed, from experts to enthusiasts, to spread a more sporting climate in our stadiums, suitable for a civilised country like Italy." https://t.co/z2fi2L0vw6— Rob Harris (@RobHarris) September 2, 2019
We’ll believe their commitment to actual change when we see it.
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