Romelu Lukaku left Manchester United this summer under a bit of a cloud, which was totally unnecessary, after his behaviour in the final months of the club.
He wasn’t the favourite of many reds but there were plenty who would have been happy to see him stay in the squad and fight for his place in the first team. But his posts on social media put people’s noses out of joint.
It was clear that Lukaku had a chip on his shoulder when he leaked confidential training stats showing him clocking the second highest speed. After criticisms over his poor first touch and increasing size, he felt the need to fight back and did so in a way that was totally unprofessional.
After Gary Neville joined those who pointed out that he was over weight, Lukaku took to Instagram to post a shirtless picture of himself, with the caption ‘not bad for a fat boy’.
The Belgian left for Serie A hoping with the belief that he could receive the adulation he believed he deserved, after falling out of favour in his second season at United when he scored just 15 goals in 45 appearances.
While Inter Milan fans appeared happy to have him, it only took until his second game for the well documented racism in Serie A to rear its ugly head. Cagliari supporters could be heard making monkey noises as he stepped up to take a penalty, which he then scored. His teammates rallied around him and you would have thought the fans of his new club would do the same.
Instead, they released a statement claiming that the abuse he received was not racism but instead was a sign of respect, as they were merely trying to put him off scoring.
An Inter fan group, Curva Nord, responded to Lukaku’s claim that the game was going backward.
You have to understand that Italy is not like many other north European countries where racism is a real problem. 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.
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.
What is alarming about this statement is, not only did they refuse to back him in this racism row, they admitted that they would behave in exactly the same way as the Cagliari when faced with a black opponent.
In December last year, Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly was the victim of Inter’s racist abuse and as a result they had to play two games in an empty stadium. But the punishment never seems to match the crime in Serie A, with them appearing uncommitted to taking racism as seriously as they should. If they were to start deducting points to repeat offenders, then fans would likely refrain from making monkey noises.
Lukaku didn’t have an easy time in the Premier League but the worst he got here was comments about his weight. Sadly, it looks like it’s going to be a whole lot tougher for him in Serie A.