A group of Inter Milan fans are doubling down on the racist chants that were directed at striker Romelu Lukaku on Sunday, insisting in an open letter to their own player that the monkey chants he heard from opposing fans over the weekend weren’t actually racist.
Lukaku lined up for a penalty kick in their game on Sunday at Cagliari, and was subject to very clear monkey chants from their fans. After staring them down, he converted the penalty — which ended up being the game-winning goal in a 2-1 win.
Inter’s ultras, aka the Curva Nord — a large group of extremely dedicated Inter Milan fans — published a letter to Lukaku on their Facebook page on Tuesday. In the letter, the group insisted that the Cagliari fans’ actions from Sunday’s game weren’t actually racist, and that racism isn’t a “real problem” in Italy like in other European countries.
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 multiethnic fans organization 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 organization there are many fans of different races or fans coming from other parts of Italy that also use this ways to provocate 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 ...
Lukaku is just the latest soccer player to face racist abuse in recent years across many leagues around the world. Cagliari fans have been caught making monkey noises at players on multiple occasions in he past, and several Manchester United players have been the targets of online racism in recent weeks, too.
Now plenty of people have condemned the racist actions of the fans from Sunday’s game, including Inter manager Antonio Conte. He said after the game that Italian fans need to “improve a lot and be more educated.” Serie A responded too, however limitedly, by reportedly forming a committee of players from across the league to “stamp out racism from Italian football.”
Lukaku released a statement of his own on Monday.
“Ladies and gentleman, it’s 2019,” Lukaku wrote on social media, in part. “Instead of going forward we’re going backwards and I think as players we need to unify and make a statement on this matter to keep this game clean and enjoyable for everyone.”
While the condemnation seems to be coming from multiple angles, it appears some Inter fans haven’t received that message just yet.
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