Inter Milan striker Romelu Lukaku was the subject of monkey chants from Cagliari fans Sunday, the latest in a string of racist incidents that have marred the Italian club in recent years.
Lukaku, who was playing his second game for Inter having signed from Manchester United last month, received the abuse before and after scoring a second-half penalty to give his team a 2-1 win over the Sardinian side.
He refused to celebrate, instead, he stared into the stands in the direction of the chants.
“Many players in the last month have suffered from racial abuse … I did yesterday to [sic],” Lukaku wrote on Instagram.
“Football is a game to be enjoyed by everyone and we shouldn’t accept any form of discrimination that will put our game in shame. I hope the football federations all over [the] world react strongly in all cases of discrimination.”
He also argued that social media platforms should take a stronger stance against racial abuse and added that “instead of going forward we’re going back… as players, we need [to] unify and make a statement on this matter to keep this game clean and enjoyable for everyone.”
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Inter boss Antonio Conte insists he did not hear the noises from his touchline position but said in a news conference after the game that “in Italy, we must improve a lot and be more educated and respectful towards those doing their job.”
“In other countries, you support the team; you don’t insult the opposition like this,” Conte added. “There must be maximum respect. Today I was treated well and wasn’t insulted, other times it hasn’t happened like that and it’s not nice.”
In a statement, Cagliari called Sunday’s incident “absolutely unacceptable” and affirmed the club’s 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.
It continued: “Full solidarity to Romelu Lukaku and even stronger commitment toward[s] annihilating one of the worst plagues that affect football and our world in general.