Romelu Lukaku subjected to 'disgusting racist abuse' before scoring Inter equaliser that sparked CHAOS as Roc Nation call for Juventus to apologise
- Lukaku racially abused before last-minute penalty
- Sent off for telling crowd to "shut it"
- Representatives deplored punishment and called for action
WHAT HAPPENED? The in-form Belgian star converted from 12 yards to level the scores at 1-1 in the 95th minute of Tuesday's Coppa Italia semi-final. Before and after Lukaku's successful penalty, some members of the home crowd were seen to be making racist monkey noises and gestures. Lukaku gestured to the crowd when celebrating and told the home fans to "shut it", for which he received a second yellow card and was duly dismissed by the referee.
WHAT THEY SAID: Michael Yormak of Roc Nations Sports International, who represent the forward, deplored his punishment and called on Juventus to issue an apology. The company president wrote in a statement posted on Twitter: "Tonight’s racist remarks made towards Romelu Lukaku by Juventus fans in Turin were beyond despicable and cannot be accepted. Romelu scored a penalty late in the game. Before, during, and after the penalty, he was subjected to hostile and disgusting racist abuse. Romelu celebrated in the same manner he has previously celebrated goals. The referee’s response was to award a yellow card to Romelu. Romelu deserves an apology from Juventus, and I expect the League to condemn the behaviour of this group of Juventus supporters immediately. The Italian authorities must use this opportunity to tackle racism, rather than punish the victim of the abuse. I am certain that the footballing world shares the same sentiment.”
Inter have also released a statement pledging their support to Lukaku, which reads: "We are brothers and sisters of the world. Since 9 March 1908 this has been our story. We want to firmly reiterate that we stand united against racism and all forms of discrimination. Football and sport must not only be a place for emotion but also for clear and shared values, and what we saw last night in the final minutes of the Juventus vs. Inter Coppa Italia semi-final in Turin has no place in our sport. This is why we reiterate our support, affection and solidarity to Romelu Lukaku, just as the world of football is doing from all over since the incident. Stay strong Rom, we stand with you!"
We are brothers and sisters of the world. Since 9 March 1908, this has been our story.— Inter (@Inter_en) April 5, 2023
We want to firmly reiterate that we stand united against racism and all forms of discrimination.#FCIM
THE BIGGER PICTURE: Indeed, a similar celebration had been adopted by Lukaku during his red-hot form over the international break, albeit never aimed directly at the home supporters.
The Italian Football Federation (FIGC) now face a crucial period to tackle an endemic problem in their nation's sport. Tuesday's match was far from the first time a black player has been racially abused. Mario Balotelli was one of the first and most vehement recipients, but as recently as January of this year, Lecce's Samuel Umtiti was also subject to such abuse.
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WHAT NEXT? It is also not the first time a player has been punished for a misinterpreted celebration, after Atalanta star Ademola Lookman was booked for his trademark 'binoculars' gesture after scoring back in October. Thus far, neither the FIGC or Juventus have responded to Roc Nation's statement.