After the recent racist incidents that tainted football in Italy, including targeting Romelu Lukaku from Belgium, AC Milan took action on the sidelines of the derby on Saturday (21 September) against Inter. The two clubs in Lombardy intend to send a strong message to "wake up Italian football" against this recurring problem.
The seasons go by and the scandals linked to racism still plague Italian football. The 2019-2020 season began less than a month ago in Serie A and controversies are already piling up, especially around a man: Romelu Lukaku . The Belgian international, born to parents from the DRC, has spent three weeks very agitated and sometimes even surreal.
Three weeks of controversy around Lukaku
It all began on 1 September, in a match between Cagliari and Inter Milan, the new Romelu Lukaku club. When the former Manchester United resident scored the goal of the Interim victory (2-1) on a penalty kick, he was the target of screaming monkeys. Not a first with some supporters of Cagliari, who also took Cameroonian Samuel Eto'o , Ghana's Sulley Muntari , French Blaise Matuidi and Italian Moise Kean in the past.
That did not stop there ... Two days after the incidents in Cagliari, members of the Curva Nord, an influential group of supporters of Inter, issued an unreal statement in which they assure Romelu Lukaku that what is passed September 1st was not racism but just a way for fans of Cagliari to encourage their team and destabilize the opponent. They even invited the Belgian to " live this attitude as a form of respect ".
#SayNoToRacism pic.twitter.com/Kwl8zFUYKJR.Lukaku Bolingoli9 (@ RomeluLukaku9) September 2, 2019
Latest episodes: the decision of the Italian football federation, which chose not to sanction Cagliari or his supporters, and the words of Luciano Passirani on Italian television. The former head of Atalanta Bergamo, who became a consultant, skidded, trying to praise Romelu Lukaku. After listing all the qualities of the attacker, Passirani added: " To stop him, just throw ten bananas for him to eat. The consultant was immediately suspended by the TopCalcio channel24 and then made a clumsy apology (" The woman who lived with me for 17 years is black, and I have two little black nieces." I am not racist, I am an educated person ").
A "Derby Against Racism"
All these polemics, which are added to others elsewhere in Europe, have pushed AC Milan has accelerated in its approach to fight against racism. The Rossonero club announced Friday, September 20, the creation of an internal working group whose goal is to deal with the problems of racism in Italian football. The program, which has been in the making for months, has gone into high gear after the last incidents and in view of the Serie A shock scheduled for Saturday, September 21: AC Milan welcomes his old rival, Inter.
To mark the coup with Romelu Lukaku, AC Milan, solidaire, decreed that this match will be the "Derby against racism". Players from both teams will gather for a symbolic photo before the match, as if to symbolize their union, despite their rivalry, against the scourge of racism.
United by one badge StrongerTogether pic.twitter.com/gsa8R59JOKAC Milan (@acmilan) September 20, 2019
" The moral obligation to do everything (...) to solve this problem "
" Italian football has to wake up and take a firm stance against racist behavior. AC Milan will assume a leading position on this issue by promoting the fundamental human values that concern us all, "says Ivan Gazidis, the Milanese president.
The latter continues: " Football brings a powerful example of the strength of unity and teamwork. Diversity, inclusion and tolerance reinforce the strength of a team, a club and society as a whole. We believe that we have a moral obligation to do everything in our power to solve this problem. Ivan Gazidis adds: " These values transcend rivalries and we look forward to having the support of Inter in this initiative. "
Racism has no place here!
Who he razzismo non è di casa!
Derby against racism 🤝 pic.twitter.com/kJ2zBhZcoZ
Antonio Conte, the former coach of Chelsea who took the reins of Inter this summer, has himself noted the deterioration of the situation in Italy: " After three years away from Italy, I find that things are are worse in Italy. I see a lot of hatred and resentment everywhere. We should send positive messages and not exacerbate rivalries. This Milan-Inter is a new stone laid in the vast site of the fight against racism in Italian football.