The unsavoury matter of racism was back at the fore in the Italian league after AS Roma condemned the ‘Black Friday’ headline used by Italian newspaper Corriere dello Sport.
The headline accompanied pictures of Roma defender Chris Smalling and Inter Milan striker Romelu Lukaku – previously the subject of racist abuse – prior to Friday’s match between their two sides.
“The intention of the newspaper article was actually positive,” said Roma chief strategy officer Paul Rogers.
“But this headline has totally overshadowed the anti-racist message contained within the story.”
In a social media post, Inter said: “Football is passion, culture and brotherhood. We are and always will be opposed to any form of discrimination.”
Not a single soul:
Corriere dello Sport headline writer: pic.twitter.com/u2xpMLV5IH
— AS Roma English (@ASRomaEN) December 5, 2019
Corriere dello Sport defended the “innocent” headline in a comment piece on its website.
“White, blacks, yellows. To negate every difference is the typical massive error of ‘the racism of the anti-racisms’,” said the editorial.
“The mental rabble of those casual moralists. ‘Black Friday’, for those who want and can understand it, it was only a way to celebrate diversity.
“If you don’t understand, it is because you can’t or you don’t want to understand.”
The article accompanying the headline called former Manchester United team-mates Lukaku and Smalling “the idols of Inter and Roma fans” and that their confrontation would be the “battle inside tomorrow’s big game”.
It added: “They [Lukaku and Smalling] have learned how to respect each other. They have taken strong stances against racism.”
Rogers said: “Unfortunately, as we’ve seen on social media, more people will see that ill-judged headline on the front page than read the actual article and it creates new issues at a time when we are all trying to tackle the issue of racism in Italian football.”
This is the latest controversy during a season in which Serie A has had to deal a number of incidents of racism.
Only last week, all 20 top flight clubs made a united pledge to combat the menace rocking Italian football.