'We're going backwards' says Lukaku after racist abuse at Cagliari

MILAN (Reuters) - Belgium and Inter Milan striker Romelu Lukaku made a plea to football federations and social media platforms on Monday to do more to fight racism after he was subjected to racist abuse in Sunday’s 2-1 Serie A victory at Cagliari.

FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - Serie A - Inter Milan v Lecce - San Siro, Milan, Italy - August 26, 2019 Inter Milan's Romelu Lukaku celebrates scoring their third goal REUTERS/Daniele Mascolo

Playing only his second match in Italy after his move from Manchester United, Lukaku appeared to be the target of monkey chants from the home crowd at the Sardegna Arena as he prepared to take the decisive penalty.

Cagliari described the behaviour of the fans involved as shameful after the latest in a string of incidents involving the club but also said that “both Inter Milan and Cagliari supporters enjoyed a lovely evening together in the name of their passion for football.”

Several black players have suffered online racist abuse in recent weeks, including Manchester United’s Paul Pogba and Chelsea’s Tammy Abraham and Kurt Zouma.

Racism has been a long-running problem in Italian football where authorities have been criticised for not taking strong enough action.

Lukaku lamented the lack of action despite years of complaints.

“Many players in the last month have suffered from racial abuse. I did yesterday too,” Lukaku said on Instagram. “Football is a game to be enjoyed and we shouldn’t accept any form of discrimination that will put our game in shame.

“I hope the football federations all over the world react strongly on all cases of discrimination.

“Social media platforms (Instagram, Twitter, Facebook) need to work better as well with football clubs because every day you see at least a racist comment under a post of a person of colour. We’ve been saying it for years and still no action.

“Instead of going forwards we’re going backwards ... As players we need to unify and make a statement on this matter.”

Twitter said last month that it would meet with United and the anti-discrimination group Kick It Out to address online racist abuse towards players in Britain.

In an emailed statement to Reuters on Monday, it said that it was a “complex challenge.”

“We are committed to working with civil society stakeholders to develop solutions to this unacceptable behaviour - both online and off,” said a spokesperson.

Former Juventus forward Moise Kean, now with Everton, was insulted after scoring against Cagliari in April but Serie A took no action against the Sardinian club, saying that the insults had limited relevance.

Before that, in a run of events going back until 2010, Juventus midfielder Blaise Matuidi was also insulted as were Sulley Muntari and Samuel Eto’o, who at the time of the incidents were playing for Pescara and Inter Milan respectively.

On Monday, the club said it would “identify, isolate and ban those ignorant individuals whose shameful actions and behaviours are completely against those values that Cagliari Calcio strongly promotes.”

The club also complained about “silly stereotypes addressed to Cagliari supporters and the Sardinian people, which are absolutely unacceptable.”

Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru and Brian Homewood in Bern; Editing by Kevin Liffey and Pritha Sarkar