Belgian international striker Romelu Lukaku, currently of Inter Milan and formerly of Manchester United, Everton, Chelsea, and Anderlecht, was on the receiving end of racial abuse by Cagliari fans in a recent Serie A match.
As a recently arrived player in the Italian top division, he has been the point of scrutiny concerning a long-standing issue in Calcio Italiano.
After a mixed time at United, Lukaku seems to have found his groove and has been scoring freely at Inter and thus his success has seen him become a target of hate. He also was abused by an Italian TV pundit, who said the best way to stop his progress at Inter was to throw bananas at him.
This isn’t the first instance of racial abuse featuring players of colour in Italy. And in all honsety, this applies in many other European countries too.
In England, Raheem Sterling was subjected to abuse at Chelsea, during a Premier League game in the 18/19 season. Arsenal striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang had a banana skin thrown at him in a game against fierce rivals Tottenham Hotspur in the same season as Sterling.
So it is a problem prevalent in various European leagues. Such instances though in Italy tend to be more flagrant. These acts seemingly were condoned (indirectly) by an Inter fan group.
What can be done though to curb this? What measures can be taken to ensure such incidents are not repeated? Talk has emanated of bans, or games played behind closed doors.
Former England international John Barnes, who suffered horrific racist incidents in his own heyday, has on multiple occassions said that racism is a societal issue and that stemming racism is rooted ultimately in societal change.
This rings true. Football is a part of society and people will bring in their own views held in common discourse. Whilst football cannot alter society completely, it can try to get its own house in order for starters.
It can ensure that the football stadium is a place where players, fans, coaches, and all participants can be respected for who they are without being subjected to continual abuse.
Raheem Sterling has reached a world-class level whilst winning with Manchester City and in many ways is echoing John Barnes in his elevation to the heights amidst racial harassment.
Clearly more needs to be done to eliminate such behaviour. Here are a few ways racism can be tackled and stopped for the betterment of football.