Newspaper defends 'Black Friday' headline with 'lynching' response

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MILAN, ITALY - DECEMBER 01:  Romelu Menama Lukaku Bolingoli of FC Internazionale looks on during the Serie A match between FC Internazionale and SPAL at Stadio Giuseppe Meazza on December 1, 2019 in Milan, Italy.  (Photo by Claudio Villa - Inter/Inter via Getty Images)
Romelu Lukaku of FC Internazionale (Credit: Getty Images)

After facing widespread backlash for a racist headline on the front cover of Corriere dello Sport, the Italian newspaper has defended its stance in equally controversial fashion.

The newspaper’s front page on Friday read: "Who are you calling racist? Lynching of a newspaper that for a century has defended liberty and equality."

The paper’s director, Ivan Zazzaroni, said: “This article has been made poisonous by those who have poison inside them.

“These days armies of right-minded people flock to the web to whitewash their beautiful souls. You locate the racist of the hour and off you go, in two strokes of the keyboard the stain has gone, you feel a better person in a better world. White, black, yellow.”

Previewing Inter’s upcoming fixture against Roma on Thursday, Corriere dello Sport ran the front page with the headline ‘Black Friday’ in reference to Romelu Lukaku and Chris Smalling.

READ MORE: Serie A clubs call on Italian football fans to help end racism

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.”

On Thursday the Corriere dello Sport released a statement. It read: “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.

Chris Smalling of Roma greeting the supporters during the Serie A match AS Roma v Brescia Fc at the Olimpico Stadium in Rome, Italy on November 24, 2019  (Photo by Matteo Ciambelli/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Chris Smalling of Roma (Credit: Getty Images)

“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.”

READ MORE: Mario Balotelli subject to racist comment by his Brescia chairman

READ MORE: Shakhtar Donetsk's Taison banned after reacting to racism

Lukaku called the headline “fuelling negativity and racism”, while Smalling said it was “wrong and highly insensitive”.

Roma and Milan have both since banned the newspaper from their clubs.

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.

VERONA, ITALY - NOVEMBER 03:  Mario Balotelli #45 of Brescia Calcio reacts to racist chants from Verona fans during the Serie A match between Hellas Verona and Brescia Calcio at Stadio Marcantonio Bentegodi on November 3, 2019 in Verona, Italy.  (Photo by Alessandro Sabattini/Getty Images)
Mario Balotelli reacts to racist chants (Credit: Getty Images)

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