Romelu Lukaku’s agent Federico Pastorello has condemned newspaper Corriere dello Sport and acknowledged Italian football has an issue with racism.
Lukaku and former Manchester United team-mate Chris Smalling featured on the front page of Thursday’s issue of the popular newspaper, which printed the headline “Black Friday” ahead of Inter’s meeting with Roma in Serie A.
The headline has been widely criticised, and it follows on from numerous examples of racist behaviour across Italian football this season – with Lukaku having already been a victim of such abuse earlier in the campaign.
While Italy struggles with uncomfortable questions regarding cultural issues of discrimination, Pastorello believes the country has ingrained problems with racism.
“Being Italian I’m really ashamed to read a title like that, but I really don’t want to talk about a single episode,” Pastorello told Sky Sports.
“At the end of the day, the racist problem is a big problem. Unfortunately we are living in 1920. It’s really a culture problem.
“Being an agent, we are trying to protect our clients from this huge problem, because it’s not only a newspaper but it’s a problem you can breathe in the stadium, in social media, on the street. I think it’s a problem that is a culture problem.
“What I would like and wish for the future is institutions could take it more serious. There were some episodes in Champions League recently, also in Serie A games and the institution did not take so seriously the problem.
“[Lukaku] is very sensitive on this problem. I like his attitude because he’s facing it every time with strength and power. For sure he is not happy about that, but he’s strong enough to face it.”
Fonseca: “The Corriere dello Sport headline? I don’t think it’s a good choice of words. We need to be more aware when we talk about issues related to racism – we need to be more considerate.”
— AS Roma English (@ASRomaEN) December 5, 2019
Corriere dello Sport’s editor, however, has described the headline as “innocent”.
The newspaper said its choice of words reflected “the pride of difference, the wonderful wealth of difference”, adding: “If you don’t get it, it is because you can’t or you don’t want to.”
Serie A clubs recently signed an open letter vowing to address the issue of racism within the Italian game, with football authorities criticised for not doing enough to punish examples or racial discrimination at matches.
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