An Italian newspaper’s headline has become the latest in a catalogue of racist incidents across Italian football this season.
Previewing Inter’s upcoming fixture against Roma, Corriere dello Sport ran a front page with the headline ‘Black Friday’ in reference to Romelu Lukaku and Chris Smalling.
The two players were teammates at Manchester United and are enjoying good seasons since leaving the club last summer. The newspaper selected the two as the narrative in which to base their preview around, but their choice of headline has caused widespread anger and dismay.
Italian journalist Matteo Bonetti tweeted: “Tone deaf, ignorant & with the usual racial undertones. Saying I’m shocked would be a lie at this point.”
Not a single soul:
Corriere dello Sport headline writer: pic.twitter.com/u2xpMLV5IH
— AS Roma English (@ASRomaEN) December 5, 2019
The Corriere dello Sport have since released a statement. It reads: “Digital platforms? I would say dustbins. Made up of noble grudges. Cheap indignation. A nice thought a day keeps the doctor away.
“Armies of right-minded people flock to the web these days to die their beautiful souls white.
“Having identified the racist on duty, go, two strokes on the keyboard… you feel yourself to be a better man in a better world.
“White, black, yellow. Denying the difference is the typical obvious stumbling block of anti-racism racism.
“Black Friday… was and is only the praise of difference, the pride of difference, the magnificent wealth of difference.
“Transformed into poison by those who have the poison inside.”
Earlier this season, Lukaku suffered racist abuse from opposing fans after scoring the winner in a 2-1 victory over Cagliari. He stood staring at the Cagliari fans behind the goal, where monkey chants had come from, after putting away his penalty. His own fans subsequently wrote an open letter to “explain” why the monkey chants weren’t racist.
As well as Lukaku, Mario Balotelli, Franck Kessié, Dalbert Henrique, Ronaldo Vieira and Kalidou Koulibaly have all been subjected to racist abuse in Serie A this season.
After Balotelli reacted to racist chanting, his own chairman at Brescia, Masimo Cellino, made an extraordinary comment. The former Leeds owner Massimo Cellino targeted the striker, who was dropped for the weekend defeat by Roma after a row with the manager, Fabio Grosso, as he answered questions about the former Italy international.
Cellino said: “What can I say? That he’s black and he’s working to whiten himself but he has great difficulties in this.”
In October, Celtic’s Europa League clash with Lazio was marred by fascist salutes and racist chanting from Lazio supporters before the game on Thursday.
Away fans marched through Glasgow city centre with a large number of police officers escorting them towards the stadium ahead of the game. The chanting continued during the match itself, which Celtic won 2-1.
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