Milan: A group representing Inter Milan fans has issued an open letter to their striker Romelu Lukaku defending Cagliari supporters, who directed racist chants at the Belgian after he scored against them in a Serie A match at the weekend.
The striker joined the Milan club from Manchester United over the summer and has scored in both his games so far this season. He was subjected to monkey chants as he scored a penalty against Cagliari on Sunday and he glared at the crowd after his conversion.
Inter Milan manager Antonio Conte condemned the abuse but — in a strange new development — The Inter ultras group ‘Curva Nord’ posted a letter on their Facebook page defending their rival fans.
The statement read: “Hi Romelu. We are writing you on behalf of Curva Nord, yes the guys who welcomed you at your arrival in Milan.
“We are really sorry you thought that what happened in Cagliari was racist.
“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 multi-ethnic 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.
“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.
“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.
“Once again … Welcome Romelu.”