Roma, Romelu Lukaku's Agent Condemn Corriere Dello Sport 'Black Friday' Headline

Matt JonesFeatured ColumnistDecember 5, 2019

VERONA, ITALY - DECEMBER 01:  AS Roma fans cheer during the Serie A match between Hellas Verona and AS Roma at Stadio Marcantonio Bentegodi on December 1, 2019 in Verona, Italy.  (Photo by Alessandro Sabattini/Getty Images)
Alessandro Sabattini/Getty Images

Italian newspaper Corriere dello Sport has received widespread criticism after it dubbed a clash between Inter Milan and Roma as "Black Friday" on their front page.

Per James Whaling of the Daily Mirror, the newspaper included images of Inter forward Romelu Lukaku and Roma defender Chris Smalling, who are black and mixed race respectively, on the front of Thursday's edition alongside the caption.

Roma's English Twitter account was critical of the publication: 

AS Roma English @ASRomaEN

No one: Absolutely nobody: Not a single soul: Corriere dello Sport headline writer: https://t.co/u2xpMLV5IH

Inter also responded on their Twitter account: 

Inter @Inter_en

Football is passion, culture and brotherhood. We are and always will be opposed to any form of discrimination. #BUU #BrothersUniversallyUnited #NoToDiscrimination #FCIM

A representative for Lukaku was highly critical of the newspaper, per Sportsmail (h/t Football Italia):

"It’s shocking, I’m disappointed, basically. Almost in disbelief. We at Roc Nation have met with Serie A three times. I know they came out with a letter earlier this week but with all due respect it had no substance. It's one thing to say, 'Here's what we're going to do' but you have to support that type of letter with an action plan.

"I was very very disappointed by the headline. I understand that the content of the story did not represent what the headline spoke to, but those things can't happen. That kind of insensitivity can't happen. With all due respect to the newspaper, they can't allow that to happen. It's just unacceptable. It just feeds the problem."

ESPN's Matteo Bonetti also criticised the newspaper's decision:

Matteo Bonetti @BonettiESPN

Tone deaf, ignorant & with the usual racial undertones. Saying I’m shocked would be a lie at this point. Absolute embarrassment from @CorSport to come up with this title for Friday’s clash between Inter and Roma. https://t.co/0OPOD5LZ9x

Sport Witness provided further details on the content of the article, noting Corriere dello Sport encourage readers to look beyond the race of the players:

Sport Witness @Sport_Witness

Corriere dello Sport: 'Let's look at Inter-Roma through the personal challenge, considering the relationships but also the roles on the pitch, of two giants of colour.'

The newspaper released its own response to the criticism later on Thursday, per Football Italia: 

footballitalia @footballitalia

Corriere dello Sport responds to criticism after “Black Friday” headline, claiming it’s an “innocent title” transformed into “poison” by those who have “poison inside them.” #FCIM #ASRoma #SerieA #NoToRacism #KickItOut https://t.co/nCaHh8dFwd https://t.co/iSa5U4E1FS

Racism remains a big issue in Italian football. On Friday, all 20 Serie A collaborated to write an open letter pledging to combat racism and seeking assistance to do so after multiple incidents this season.

Lukaku, who moved to Serie A from Manchester United in the summer, was subject to monkey chants in September during a clash with Cagliari.

Despite the audible chants, the Inter ultras wrote a letter to the Belgian striker saying the behaviour of the Cagliari fans was "not racist."

Former Liverpool and Manchester City player Mario Balotelli, who is now at Brescia, was also subjected to discriminatory chants during the recent match between his side and Hellas Verona in November. The Italian threatened to leave the field before kicking the ball in the direction of his abusers.

Lukaku's Inter have the chance to go four points clear at the top of Serie A with a win on Friday. The forward, who has scored 10 league goals this season, may find it difficult to get the better of Smalling, though, with the on-loan United defender shining since making the switch to Roma.