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Luciano Passirani Banned by TV Show for Racist Comment on Romelu Lukaku

Tom Sunderland@@TomSunderland_Featured ColumnistSeptember 16, 2019

MILAN, ITALY - SEPTEMBER 14:  Romelu Lukaku of FC Internazionale looks on during the Serie A match between FC Internazionale and Udinese Calcio at Stadio Giuseppe Meazza on September 14, 2019 in Milan, Italy.  (Photo by Emilio Andreoli/Getty Images)
Emilio Andreoli/Getty Images

Italian football pundit Luciano Passirani has been banned from appearing on television show Qui Studio a Voi Stadio after he aimed racist comments at Inter Milan striker Romelu Lukaku on air.

Passirani said Lukaku—who joined Inter from Manchester United this summer—will "[kill] you" if you go one-on-one against him. He then added that the only way you can stop Lukaku is if you give the player "10 bananas to eat," per Marcus Christenson of the Irish Times:

"Lukaku is one of the best signings that Inter could have made. I don't see another player like him on any other team in Italy. He is one of the strongest, I like him a lot because he has that strength: he is the twin of (Duvan) Zapata at Atalanta.

"They have something extra that the rest don't have, and then they score the goals and drag your team forward. This guy kills you in the one-on-ones, if you try to challenge him you wind up on the floor. Either you have 10 bananas to eat, that you give to him, or..."

Fabio Ravezzani, programme director for the Telelombardia show, turned down Passirani's apology and said the pundit wouldn't participate in future broadcasts, per BBC Sport.

"Mr. Passirani is 80 years old and to compliment Lukaku he used a metaphor that turned out to be racist. I think it was a terrible lack of momentary lucidity. I cannot tolerate any kind of errors, even if momentary," he said.

Lukaku was the target of monkey chants from Cagliari fans when he scored a 2-1 penalty winner on September 1, and Passirani's comment was a reminder of the abuse Lukaku suffered.

The remark appears to be an attempted compliment regarding the strong form of Lukaku—who scored twice in his first two games for Inter—but has instead strengthened concerns with racism in Italian football.

Journalist Chris Lepkowski touched on the warped culture among some fans and pundits:

Chris Lepkowski @chrislepkowski

Luciano Passirani's comments show just how much needs to be done to eradicate the permeating culture of racism in Italian football. On what level did he think that statement was acceptable?

Sportswriter Siavous Fallahi posted a screenshot of Lukaku's reply to the racist abuse from the Cagliari fans. Lukaku called on social media to make more of an effort tackling the issue:

Siavoush Fallahi @SiavoushF

Lukaku only said he suffered from racial abuse which he did and put it in a bigger perspective. Not sure what's up with the "not all italians" thing. Also "racism doesn't exist in Italy" is incredible to read https://t.co/Rkx6BECyaN

Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly was the target of racist abuse while facing Inter in December 2018, while former Juventus striker Moise Kean—now at Everton—was also targeted at Cagliari in April this year.

Koulibaly recently told Il Corriere dello Sport (h/t ESPN FC) that Serie A should look to copy the Premier League in its more proactive response to racism in the sport.

Journalist Raphael Honigstein recently appeared on BBC 5 Live Sport and said Italian football authorities have turned a blind eye to the problem for too long:

BBC 5 Live Sport @5liveSport

'The point is... Italian football has too long ignored these situations' Speaking on this week's Euro Leagues, @honigstein believes more needs to be done to stop racism after Lukaku was subjected to racist chants last week. Listen 👇 📲⚽️: https://t.co/vtdqKFgUcj #bbcfootball https://t.co/KWSxUTRnBz

Passirani's ban from Qui Studio a Voi Stadio is an acknowledgment that such remarks don't belong in football—in Italy or elsewhere.

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