Romelu Lukaku Incident, a Commonplace In Italian Football
Racism is entrenched in Italian soccer, so much so that incidents can just be shrugged off. This is worrying.
Something bad happened at Cagliari's Stadio Sardegna on Sunday, but instead of causing a ruckus, it is being treated as everyday soccer in Italy, according to New York Times.
When Inter Milan's new Belgian striker, Romelu Lukaku get ready to kick, Cagliari fans behind the goal made sure he would become distracted using the crudest trick on the book there is - engaging a prolonged round of monkey chants. Lukaku is if one is not familiar, is black. The monkey chants continued on, well until the shot struck the back of the net.
The incident is reminiscent of what happened with a black Juventus player last season. He too was racially abused, and like everything that happens in this era, it was captured in a video. Even though the video circulated and was condemned in social media, it is notable that this is not considered that much of a big deal in much of Italy. Worse, the initial reactions of his teammates were to blame him for provoking it. The young Juventus striker was Moise Kean.
The same is going on now with Lukaku's case. Italy is once again seemingly unbothered by the racist incident. Cagliari even defended the fans' honor in a statement. League officials even announced that there was no need for disciplinary action. and Inter's fans defended the behavior in an open letter posted on Facebook.
Ironically, they said that the chants were just made for Lukaku to become "nervous" and should be perceived as a sign of "respect." The letter even put Lukaku in the defensive, as if he is the one too slow and ignorant of Italian football culture. They told him to expect more similar instances at future matches.
All these unseeming reactions after the 26-year-old Belgium star took to Twitter to air his sentiments, urging football authorities to do more to combat racism. However, it seems now the message to him is clear - this is Italy, and this is normal, and he is making a mountain out of a molehill, according to Telegraph. But to fans outside of Italy, this is not the case.
Take for example former Chelsea, West Ham United and Newcastle striker Demba Ba. He tweeted the said open letter asking Lukaku to rethink his accusations of racism and claimed that this is the exact reason why he decided not to play in Italy when he could. He even wished that all black players will just get out of the league. "Surely it won't stop their [the fans'] stupidity and hate, but at least they won't affect other races," he wrote.