Romelu Lukaku and Chris Smalling have both released statements following Thursday’s ‘Black Friday’ headline in Corrie dello Sport.
The Italian newspaper ran a photo of the pair on the front page of Thursday’s edition of the newspaper to preview the former Manchester United players coming head to head the following day in Inter’s game with Roma, and accompanied the story with the headline: ‘Black Friday’.
Both Inter and Roma have come out on social media to criticize the heading and Lukaku and Smalling have since followed suit.
The former posted on his Twitter account to say: “Instead of focusing on a battle between two teams.. corriere dello sport comes up with the most dumbest of headlines I have ever seen in my career.
“You guys keep fuelling the negativity and the racism issue instead of talking about the beautiful game that’s going to be played at San Siro between two great clubs.
“Education is key. You guys of corriere dello Sport should do a better job at that.
“Thanks to all the fans and other journalists to highlight for the support and let’s all look forward to tomorrow’s game. Forza Inter.”
Smalling also took to Twitter and wrote: “Whilst I would have liked to spend the day focusing on the big game tomorrow, it is important that I acknowledge that what occurred this morning was wrong and highly insensitive.
“I hope the editors involved in running this headline take responsibly and understand the power they possess through words, and the impact those words can have.
“A big shout out to AS Roma for the support. Now let the battle commence Rom, daje Roma.”
The incident with Corrie dello Sport is one of a number of occasions involving alleged racist behaviour in Serie A this year, with Lukaku himself being subjected to monkey chanting earlier in the campaign as he took a penalty against Cagliari in September.
The player’s agent, Federico Pastorello, also condemned the newspaper headline on Thursday saying: “Being Italian I’m really ashamed to read a title like that but I really don’t want to talk about a single episode.”
Meanwhile, in response to Corrie dello Sport’s headline, both AC Milan and Roma have banned the paper from attending their training facilities until the end of the calendar year.