An Italian commentator was fired from appearances on a studio show after making racist comments on air about Inter Milan striker Romelu Lukaku.
Luciano Passirani, an 80-year-old Italian football journalist, said the only way to stop the star was to “give him 10 bananas to eat.” The show’s director announced later in the show the commentator would not be back.
It’s only the latest racist remark thrown at Lukaku and joins a long list of racist issues in soccer.
Pundit: Only way to stop Lukaku is ‘10 bananas’
Passirani was on the Qui Studio a Voi Stadio show, per The Guardian, speaking about Lukaku, who Inter Milan acquired over the summer from Manchester United. The conversation revolved around the star’s impact on Inter, which is atop the Serie A table with Lukaku having scored twice in three games.
“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 [Dúvan] 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 …”
— Donato Cerullo (@donatocerullo) September 15, 2019
Per the BBC and Google Translate, the direct quote was, “"The only way to come up against him is maybe give him 10 bananas to eat..."
TV station fires Italian commentator
Station director Fabio Ravezzani went on the show later to say Passirani had immediately apologized, but still would no longer be making appearances on the show.
“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.”
Lukaku addressed monkey chants this month
Lukaku endured monkey chants from Cagliari fans earlier this month after converting a game-winning penalty kick for Inter. He addressed the issue on Instagram and his club also issued a statement. Serie A’s judge hasn’t yet decided if the Cagliari club will be punished.
A group of Inter fans wrote an open letter to Lukaku supporting the Cagliari base and explaining it wasn’t racist but rather a “way” to “help our teams.”
"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.”
Racism in soccer has grown in recent years and instances have popped up regularly around the world. Just last weekend the NWSL identified and banned a fan for racist remarks toward Portland Thorns goalkeeper Adrianna Franch.
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