FIFA President Gianni Infantino condemned the racist chants of Juventus fans against Inter striker Romelu Lukaku during the first semi-final of the Coppa Italia.
Lukaku scored a stoppage-time penalty to give visitors Inter a 1-1 draw in Turin on Tuesday, duly celebrating by putting his finger to his lips in front of Juventus fans in response to insults.
The celebration was considered provocative and the Belgian was sent off for a second punitive offence, with the incident leading to a confrontation between the two groups of players.
On Wednesday, Lukaku issued a statement demanding action from the Italian authorities, which was widely supported by other big names in the football world.
Infantino called the chants “unacceptable” and urged those responsible to be punished.
Infantino said: “There is no place in football for racism or any form of discrimination.
“It is simply unacceptable to see racist insults from spectators towards Inter striker Romelu Lukaku during the Coppa Italia match against Juventus in Turin.
Penalty Pro #ForzaInter #JuventusInter #CoppaItaliaFrecciarossa pic.twitter.com/eU7QQg1xez
— Inter (@Inter) April 4, 2023
“FIFA and I support Romelu Lukaku as we do any other player, coach, match official, fan or participant in a football match who has suffered from racism or any other form of discrimination.
“The victims of these abuses must be supported and the perpetrators duly punished by all authorities.
“I repeat the call to fans made earlier this year to stand up and silence the racists.
“Similarly, in football, we must ensure that strong sports sanctions are applied to address such incidents and as a deterrent.”
In a message to Lukaku earlier in the day, he sought to emphasize that such incidents were recurring, not isolated.
“History repeats itself. (I) went through it in 2019 and (now) again in 2023,” he said on Instagram.
“I hope that this time the league will really take real action because this beautiful game should please everyone.
Thanks for the messages of support. Fuck racism.”
His message received support from people like Kylian Mbappe.
Mbappe wrote on Instagram: “2023 and the problems are still the same. But we’re not going to let you go.”