MILAN (AP) — Romelu Lukaku’s management company reacted with outrage after the Inter Milan forward was shown a second yellow card and then sent off for a gesture toward Juventus fans who directed racist chants at him.
The incident occurred after Lukaku converted a penalty in stoppage time to earn Inter a 1-1 draw in the Italian Cup semifinals on Tuesday.
Lukaku held his finger to his lips as if to silence the crowd after scoring.
Lukaku’s gesture enraged the opposing team and the game ended in a scuffle between the two squads, with Juventus winger Juan Cuadrado and Inter goalkeeper Samir Handanovic also sent off.
“Tonight’s racist remarks made towards Romelu Lukaku by Juventus fans in Turin were beyond despicable and cannot be accepted,” Roc Nation Sports International president Michael Yormark said. “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,” Yormark added. “The Italian authorities must use this opportunity to tackle racism, rather than punish the victim of the abuse.”
Lukaku himself added on Instagram: “History repeats. Been through it in 2019.. and 2023 again..I hope the league really take actions for real this time because this beautiful game should be enjoyed by everyone.”
The Italian league on Wednesday issued a statement in which Lukaku was not named but said that it “strongly condemns every episode of racism and every form of discrimination.”
“A few people in the stands cannot ruin the soccer show and don’t represent the thoughts of all the fans,” the league said.
The league judge will likely open a disciplinary case into the matter, while Juventus said it would collaborate with authorities to identify the fans responsible.
Lukaku, who is Black, has been subjected to racist chants on numerous occasions during his two stints at Inter.
“It is simply unacceptable to see the racist abuse aimed by spectators at (Lukaku),” FIFA president Gianni Infantino wrote on Instagram. “FIFA and I stand with Romelu Lukaku, just as we do with any other player, coach, match official, fan or participant in a football match who has suffered from racism or any other form of discrimination.
“I repeat the call I made earlier this year for fans to stand up and silence the racists,” Infantino added. ___
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