Italian TV pundit banned after Lukaku banana slip-up

September 16 – It’s hardly believable but it’s true. Racist incidents may be on the rise across European football but you wouldn’t expect a tv pundit to be one of the culprits.

Yet Italian station TopCalcio2 has banned a veteran contributor, Luciano Passirani, for insulting Inter Milan’s Belgian international striker Romelu Lukaku.

Lukaku, who moved from Manchester United to Inter in the summer, helped his side to a 1-0 win against Udinese on Saturday.

He had already been the subject of racial abuse from Cagliari fans and commenting about how to play against him, Passirani said: “He’s one of the strongest and I like him a lot because he’s one of the strongest. These players have something more than the others, these are the guys who make the goals and drag the team.”

But he then added: “If you go one-on-one with him he will leave you for dead. You’re alright if you have ten bananas to give him to eat, otherwise…”

Passirani apologised soon after, insisting he was trying to make a joke and did not intend the comments to be racist. But channel director Fabio Ravezzani came on air almost immediately saying that despite Passirani’s “immediate apologies…he could no longer participate in our broadcasts”.

“Mr Passirani is 80 years old and to compliment Lukaku he used a metaphor that turned out to be racist,” added Ravezzani. “I think it was a terrible lack of momentary lucidity. I cannot tolerate any kind of errors, even if momentary.”

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