Inter Milan fans tell Lukaku monkey chants in Italy are not racist
‘It could have seemed racist to you but it is not like that,’ claims supporters’ group
Inter’s Romelu Lukaku was targeted with monkey chants from Cagliari fans on Sunday. Photograph: Fabio Murru/EPA
Inter Milan fans have claimed in an open letter to their striker Romelu Lukaku that the monkey chants directed at him by Cagliari fans were not racist.
Lukaku spoke out strongly against racism after being targeted on Sunday, saying football was “going backwards” in the fight against discrimination. Inter ultras from San Siro’s Curva Nord claimed in an extraordinary Facebook post that the striker had misunderstood Italian fan culture and that it was a form of respect. They also said they would probably direct the same abuse at opponents in future.
“We are really sorry you thought that what happened in Cagliari was racist,” the letter, written in English and Italian, says. “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 organisation 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.”
Lukaku called for stronger action against racism from the game’s governing bodies and social media platforms but the fans effectively criticised the former Manchester United player for his forceful remarks. Lukaku was abused while preparing to take a penalty at Cagliari.
“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,” the fans said.
“We are very sensitive and inclusive with all people. We guarantee you that in our organisation there are many fans of different races or fans coming from other parts of Italy that also use this ways to provocate [sic] their opponents even when they 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.”