Inter Milan fans' group defend monkey chants aimed at Romelu Lukaku by Cagliari supporters
New Inter signing Lukaku demanded immediate action from the Italian FA after he was abused during Sunday's 2-1 win
By Lyall Thomas
Last Updated: 04/09/19 4:57pm
A section of the Inter Milan ultras group 'Curva Nord' have insisted the monkey chants aimed at Romelu Lukaku by Cagliari fans were not meant to be racist.
Lukaku, who signed for Inter from Manchester United last month, demanded immediate action from the Italian football authorities after he was abused during Sunday's 2-1 win.
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A group called 'L'Urlo Della Nord' say Lukaku "has to understand" that - in Italy - fans have "ways only to help our teams and to try to make opponents nervous" - and they do not believe them to be racist.
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In a statement on Facebook, the group said: "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."
The statement went on to argue that the fight against racism should not begin in football stadiums but in schools, and that fans behave differently in stadiums than in the outside world.
On Tuesday, the Italian league's disciplinary judge says he needed more evidence before deciding if Cagliari should be punished for the chants, which judge Gerardo Mastrandrea did not refer to as "racist" in his weekly report.
Lukaku converted Inter's winning penalty in the game, and then glared at home fans behind the goal as they directed the monkey chants at him.
Everton forward Moise Kean was also subject to racist abuse when he played against Cagliari for Juventus last season, as was Blaise Matuidi the year before.
The Italian league did not sanction Cagliari for either incident, nor did they do so when Sulley Muntari was abused by the same team's fans in 2017.
Inter Milan say they maintain their fight against racism "every day" but will not comment on the statement from supporters and say they would prefer to focus on the daily activity of their Corporate Social Responsibility work.
Inter launched a campaign earlier this year called 'BUU', Brothers Universally United, and invited supporters to demonstrate their own slogan on social media.
"Our fans are special and they deserve a type of football that promotes positive and inclusive values," said Steven Zhang, Inter Milan president, in January.
"This campaign wants to be a solid tool against all forms of discrimination and one that strongly reaffirms the values that Inter have identified themselves."