September 2 – Inter Milan striker and match winner Romelu Lukaku was racially abused by Cagliari fans during his club’s 2-1 victory in Serie A on Sunday. Milan coach Antonio Conte said that “more education is needed in Italy.”
The former Manchester United striker, who moved to Italy this summer, received a hero’s welcome arriving in Milan and scored his second of the season in as many matches from the penalty spot against Cagliari at the weekend, but that match winner did little to wash way the foul taste left by home fans, who targeted the Belgian forward with monkey chants.
Lukaku, 26, stood and stared at fans behind the goal after scoring, upset and uncomfortable. Inter defender Milan Skriniar gestured for the Cagliari fans to stop their chanting on the pitch and spoke out against the abuse aimed at Lukaku after the final whistle. “The racist chants against Lukaku? I heard things that should not exist in football,” he said. “I told the Cagliari fans to shut up.”
Lukaku has become the latest black players in a string of incidents that Cagliari fans have incited. Previously, Moise Kean, Blaise Matuidi, Sulley Muntari and Samuel Eto’o were all subjected to racist abuse at the Sardegna Arena.
“Cagliari have history for this,” said European football’s anti-discrimination body Fare.
Inter boss Antonio Conte, however, said he hadn’t noticed the chants. “Really, I didn’t hear anything from the bench,” said Conte. “However, it is true that in general more education is needed in Italy. I have also heard Ancelotti complain about the constant insults received on certain pitches. When you are abroad there is more respect, the fans think only of supporting their team.”
Last season Kean, who moved from Juventus to Everton, suffered similar abuse when playing in Cagliari. After the game his teammate Leonardo Bonucci however claimed that Kean was partly responsible. Kean spread his arms while facing the crowd after scoring Juventus’s second goal in their 2-0 win. Bonucci infamously commented: “[Kean] could have done it differently” and “the blame is 50-50.”
Seria A said the action of the fans were reprehensible, but decided not to act.
The new incident will further tarnish the image of Italian football and its fans if the relevant authorities don’t step up. After the Kean incident Kick It Out attacked the Italian Football Federation, arguing that there had been a “clear failure in process”. The organisation said the game should have been abandoned, something Sulley Muntari triggered in 2017 when he walked off the field after abuse by Cagliari fans. At the time, Italian football authorities banned Muntari for his protest, highlighting their unwillingness to act on a problem that is rampant across Italian stadiums.
Contact the writer of this story, Samindra Kunti, at moc.l1569032766labto1569032766ofdlr1569032766owedi1569032766sni@o1569032766fni1569032766