Inter Ultras Defend Cagliari Fans' Racist Abuse of Romelu Lukaku

Tom Sunderland@@TomSunderland_Featured ColumnistSeptember 3, 2019

MILAN, ITALY - AUGUST 26:  Romelu Lukaku of FC Internazionale looks on during the Serie A match between FC Internazionale and US Lecce at Stadio Giuseppe Meazza on August 26, 2019 in Milan, Italy.  (Photo by Alessandro Sabattini/Getty Images)
Alessandro Sabattini/Getty Images

Inter Milan's ultras have come to the defence of the Cagliari supporters who racially abused new signing Romelu Lukaku during Sunday's 2-1 victory in Sardinia. 

Lukaku scored in his second successive Inter appearance, netting a winner from the penalty spot as Cagliari fans aimed jeers and monkey chants at the player.

However, Inter's ultras—touted as the most dedicated and extreme fans of the club—recently addressed a statement on Facebook to their own player claiming those actions weren't racist, per Football Italia

"Hi Romelu. We are writing you on behalf of Curva Nord, yes the guys who welcomed you at your arrival in Milan. We are really sorry you thought that what happened in Cagliari was racist. You have to understand that Italy is not like many other north European countries where racism is a REAL problem.

"We understand that it could have seemed racist to you, but it is not like that. In Italy we use some 'ways' only to 'help our teams' and to try to make our opponents nervous, not for racism but to mess them up.

"We are a multi-ethnic fans organisation and we have always welcomed players from everywhere. However, we have always used that 'way' with other teams' players in the past and we probably will in the future. 

"We are not racist and so are not the Cagliari fans. You have to understand that in all Italian stadiums people cheer for their teams but at the same time they use to cheer against the opponents not for racism but to 'help' their own team. Please consider this attitude of Italian fans as a form of respect for the fact they are afraid of you for the goals you might score against their teams and not because they hate you or they are racist.

"True racism is a completely different story and all Italian football fans know it very well. When you declare that racism is a problem to be fought in Italy you just help the repression against all football fans including us and you contribute to create a problem that is not really there, not in the way that is perceived in other countries.

"We are very sensitive and inclusive with all people. We guarantee you that in our organisation there are many fans of different races or fans coming from other parts of Italy that also use this way to [provoke] their opponents even when the have the same races or are coming from the same areas. Please help us to clarify what racism really is and that Italian fans are not racist.

"The fight to REAL racism has to begin in schools not in the stadiums, fans are just fans and they behave in different ways when inside the stadium as opposed to when they are in real life. I guarantee you that what they do or say to an opponent player of another race is not what they would ever say to someone they would meet in real life. Italian fans may not be perfect and we can understand your frustration with this expressions but they are definitely not meant to be racist.

"Once again... Welcome Romelu."

The Curva Nord—the section of the San Siro in which the ultras are based and another name for the group also known as L'urlo della Nord—often leads opinion among Inter's fans.

Journalist Siavoush Fallahi recently posted a screenshot from Lukaku's Instagram stories, whereby he touched upon his most recent brush with racism and his hopes of combatting the issue:

Fallahi was, therefore, all the more surprised to see Inter's ultras standing up for the actions of rival supporters guilty of racist abuse:

Serie A disciplinary judge Gerardo Mastrandrea reviewed the incident and referred to "chants that were the subject of news articles and TV reports" in his report, per Sky Sports. However, the word "racist" didn't appear in the report.

Fan footage was filmed among the Cagliari supporters on Sunday, which clearly shows fans directing monkey noises at Lukaku before, during and after his winning spot-kick, via Weekend Sport:

The statement from the Curva Nord attempted to pin blame on Lukaku, who joined Inter for a reported €80 million (£74 million) in August, for speaking out against racism. The statement claimed the player's comments "create a problem that is not really there, not in the way that is perceived in other countries."

CNN's Alex Thomas posted the Serie A response to the incident, with no immediate punishment evident for Cagliari or their fans:

Inter will host Udinese on Saturday, September 14 following the international break.

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