1244 GMT January 19, 2020
Cagliari fans aimed the chant at Lukaku on Sunday after he scored the winning goal in the game in Italy's top professional soccer league. He responded by glaring at the fans, according to the BBC.
Inter Milan fan group L’Urlo della Nord, which translates to Scream of the North, issued a statement Tuesday defending the chant from the Cagliari fans as being meant to "mess up" rival players, thehill.com eported.
“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,” the fan group said.
“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 read.
Lukaku called on soccer authorities and social media companies to do more to combat racism following the incident.
The Belgian soccer star posted a message on Instagram Monday saying he and several other players have suffered from racial abuse at matches.
“Football is a game to be enjoyed by everyone and we shouldn’t accept any form of discrimination that will put our game in shame,” wrote Lukaku, who just transferred to Inter Milan after playing at Manchester United in England.
The fan group’s statement said, “Italy is not like many other north European countries where racism is a real problem.”
"Please consider this attitude of Italian fans as a form of respect for the fact they are afraid of you for the goals you might score against their teams and not because they hate you or they are racist,” they said.
Cagliari issued a statement condemning the chants that took place Sunday night at its Sardegna Arena.
“The club underlines — once again — its intention to identify, isolate and ban those ignorant individuals whose shameful actions and behaviors are completely against those values that Cagliari Calcio strongly promotes in all their initiatives,” the club said. “Every single day.”
The Associated Press noted that the Italian league’s disciplinary judge said he needs more evidence before he can decide if Cagliari should be punished for the incident.