Romelu Lukaku has issued on a statement on his Instagram account in response to the racist abuse he was subjected to at the weekend.
The Inter striker suffered the 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 the monkey chants had come from, after putting away his penalty, with their actions condemned by teammate Milan Skriniar.
In a post-match interview the defender told La Gazzetta dello Sport: "There are things that must not be in football."
As the Inter players embraced after the goal, Skriniar also turned to the crowd and put his finger to his lips in an act of solidarity with his teammate.
This is shameful and disgraceful. The worst part is the pattern. Cagliari as a club and this stadium has seen several such instances. It's 2019.
Well done to #Lukaku on burying that penalty. #SayNoToRacism pic.twitter.com/RrI2u8wTB4
— Prashant (@PrashantMUFC) September 2, 2019
With 20 minutes to go, Inter were handed the chance to take the lead after Stefano Sensi was fouled in the box. Lukaku stepped up to a chorus of monkey chants, clearly audible in the stadium and on television over the live broadcast.
Inter Milan manager Antonio Conte was less committed than Skriniar, somewhat hedging his response when questioned about the abuse. He said: "I really didn't hear anything from the bench. However, it is true that in general in Italy more education is needed."
Cagliari issued a statement saying: “Cagliari Calcio firmly rejects what happened Sunday night at the Sardegna Arena during the game vs. Inter Milan.
“The Club underlines - once again - its intention to identify, isolate and ban those ignorant individuals whose shameful actions and behaviours are completely against those values that Cagliari Calcio strongly promotes in all their initiatives. Every single day.
“Cagliari vs Inter Milan was the right occasion to appreciate and enjoy positive cheer, never addressed against anybody: in fact inside our “Curva Futura” - the first dedicated sector in Italy built to host children - both Inter Milan and Cagliari supporters enjoyed a lovely evening together in the name of their passion for football.
Cagliari Calcio does not want to underplay what occurred last night, endorses the respectable moral values of its people from all the stadium sections, but firmly rejects the outrageous charge and silly stereotypes addressed to Cagliari supporters and the Sardinian people, which are absolutely unacceptable.”
It follows several recent cases of online racist abuse of players in England over the last couple of weeks. Paul Pogba, Tammy Abraham and Reading’s Yakou Meite were all subjected to racist abuse over social media after all three players missed penalties within a matter of days of each other. More recently, Abraham’s teammate Kurt Zouma suffered similar abuse this weekend after scoring a last-minute own goal against Sheffield United.
Lukaku is not the first player to be racially targeted by Cagliari fans. The incident involving the Belgian striker echoed abuse that Everton forward Moise Kean was the victim of last season while playing for his previous club Juventus against the same opposition.
That was made worse by Juve boss Massimiliano Allegri and defender Leonardo Bonucci making comments suggesting Kean was in someway responsible for the abuse he received.
Kean has been abused throughout the match and celebrated his goal by standing quietly in front of the fans, similar to Lukakau. At the time Bonucci said: “The blame is 50-50”, while Allegri added “he shouldn't have celebrated in that manner”.
After the match, Cagliari president Tommaso Giulini claimed: "What happened at the end was because of a celebration which was wrong and it would have happened with any other player."
In 2018 the Sardinian club’s fans also abused Juve’s Blaise Matuidi in the same fixture, while a year previously Pescara midfielder Sulley Muntari walked off the pitch in protest at Cagliari’s racist chants.
In none of the incidents did Italian football authorities take any action against Cagliari or its supporters. They did, however, ban Muntari for his protest.
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