Belgium international and Inter Milan striker Romelu Lukaku has been playing in the Italian Serie A for just a few weeks but can’t catch a break with the series of racist slurs targeted at him within this very short while.
On Sunday, Italian television pundit, Luciano Passirani, while heaping praise on the striker, decided to go below the belt when suggesting how he could be stopped.
According to CNN, Passirani was speaking on Top Calcio 24 when he made some racist remarks. He was fired afterwards.
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“Lukaku is one of the strongest, I like him a lot because he has strength: he is the alter ego of [Duvan] Zapata at Atalanta,” he started.
“They have something more than the others, there’s nothing else to do. They score the goals and drag your team forward.
“If you go one-on-one with him, he will kill you. Either you give him 10 bananas to eat, or …,” he added.
Realizing his comments were insensitive, Passirani moved to apologize. However, program director Fabio Ravezzani called him out and confirmed he could no longer participate in their broadcasts, CNN further reports.
“One of our commentators, in trying to define Lukaku’s strength through a series of compliments, unfortunately chose a very bad metaphor that turned out to be racist,” Ravezzani said.
“We cannot tolerate that, even unintentionally, a person who speaks for hours makes racist comments.”
This isn’t the first time Lukaku has been a victim of racist abuse as an Inter Milan player. Early this month, he was subjected to monkey chants by a section of Cagliari fans in their league match.
The incident occurred when the Belgian striker, who was born to Congolese parents, was just about taking a penalty in his side’s 2-1 win in the league game. After successfully converting the penalty, Lukaku turned to the stands where the monkey chants were coming from and gazed at the fans.
In the aftermath of that incident, Lukaku took to his Twitter page to condemn the act and other recent ones and called for action to be taken.
In an unusual twist to the same incident, an Inter Milan fan group, the Curva Nord, wrote a letter to him, claiming the chants weren’t racist – instead of condemning the act.
“We are not racist and so are not the Cagliari fans,” they wrote in the letter.
“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.”
Racial discrimination against black players in Italy has long been an issue denting the image and reputation of the league. However, authorities have taken little or no action to protect players, hold culprits and teams whose fans engage in such acts responsible, as well as, mitigate the incidents.