Serie A clubs AS Roma and AC Milan have made the joint decision to ban newspaper Corriere dello Sport for the rest of the year over its racist "Black Friday" headline used to preview Friday's match between Roma and Inter Milan.
The clubs announced the ban on Twitter:
The joint statement noted Corriere dello Sport tried to send an anti-racism message with the article, which is why the ban will last only until January:
"In response to the 'Black Friday' headline published today by the newspaper, Milan and Roma have decided to ban Corriere dello Sport from our training facilities for the rest of the year and our players will not carry out any media activities with the newspaper during this period.
"Both clubs are aware that the actual newspaper article associated with the 'Black Friday' headline did portray an anti-racist message, and for this reason, we have only banned Corriere dello Sport until January."
Per James Whaling of the Daily Mirror, the newspaper courted controversy with the headline in its preview of Friday's match, using the term "Black Friday" alongside a picture of Chris Smalling and Romelu Lukaku.
It made matters worse by lashing out at its critics, per Sport Witness:
Sport Witness @Sport_Witness
'There is nothing racist about that "Black Friday", indeed. Had they used the expression Black Pride, would anyone have complained? A match, two opponents who, in their own way, are fighting a battle deemed fair by almost all people, the one against racial discrimination.'
Both Lukaku and Smalling condemned the headline:
The 2019-20 Serie A season has been overshadowed by a series of racist incidents. Per Football Italia, Lukaku was the target of chants during a win over Cagliari in September, and even some of Inter's fans came to the defence of their Sardinian counterparts in the aftermath.
Brescia's Mario Balotelli was also the subject of chants during a loss to Hellas Verona. Per the Guardian, Hellas later banned ultra leader Luca Castellini after he said Balotelli could never be "completely Italian."
Serie A published an open letter announcing new initiatives to tackle the racism plaguing the league in November, signed by CEO Luigi De Siervo. He himself became the subject of controversy earlier in December, however, when La Repubblica (h/t Football Italia) obtained a recording of him telling clubs that TV directors have been instructed to turn off microphones when they pick up racist chants.