'Not racist': Inter Milan fans defend monkey chants aimed at Romelu Lukaku

CAGLIARI, ITALY - SEPTEMBER 01:  Romelu Menama Lukaku Bolingoli of FC scores the second goal during the Serie A match between Cagliari Calcio and FC Internazionale at Sardegna Arena on September 1, 2019 in Cagliari, Italy.  (Photo by Claudio Villa - Inter/Inter via Getty Images)
Lukaku scores against Cagliari (Photo by Claudio Villa - Inter/Inter via Getty Images)

A group of Inter Milan fans have defended the actions of their Cagliari counterparts, who on Sunday aimed monkey chants at Romelu Lukaku.

The Inter striker scored the decisive goal in a 2-1 win and was subjected to abuse which has since been condemned by his manager, fellow players, fans and anti-discrimination organisations.

But Inter’s ultras – the group of hardcore, hyper-organised fans who are a fixture of Italian football – leapt to the defence of their Cagliari equivalents.

The group, named L’Urlo della Nord, released a statement on their Facebook page which simultaneously welcomed their new signing, while attempting to justify what he experienced.

MILAN, Italy:  Inter Milan's fans sit by a flag reading "Ultra Free" during the serie A football match Inter Milan-Cagliari at San Siro stadium in Milan, 17 April 2005. European football's governing body UEFA handed Inter Milan a six-match stadium ban on Friday after their quarter-final with AC Milan was abandoned when Inter fans threw flares on to the pitch. AFP PHOTO / Paco SERINELLI  (Photo credit should read PACO SERINELLI/AFP/Getty Images)
Inter fans behind flag reading "Ultra Free" (Photo by PACO SERINELLI/AFP/Getty Images)

The group justified the derogatory chants as an attempt to ‘try to make our opponents nervous’ and that he should consider it a ‘form of respect’.

It also included an accusation that by highlighting the situation he was, in fact, making it worse.

The statement follows a message that Lukaku put out on his own Instagram page that condemned the behaviour. It included him calling out football authorities and social media platforms for their lack of action.

The statement in full:

“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.

“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 way to [provoke] their opponents even when the 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.

“Once again... Welcome Romelu.”

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