Italian media have revealed the timeline of the racist abuse and then subsequent red card received by Inter striker Romelu Lukaku at the end of yesterday evening’s Coppa Italia semifinal first leg draw against Juventus.
Today’s print edition of Milan-based newspaper Gazzetta dello Sport, via FCInterNews, reconstruct what happened in the scandalous final few minutes of yesterday evening’s match at the Allianz Stadium.
Romelu Lukaku had been evidently on the end of racist chants from some Juventus supporters before, during, and after his late equalizer from the penalty spot and subsequent celebration.
According to the Gazzetta, the chants were coming from a stand behind the Juventus goal during the second half of the match.
The newspaper suggests that the Inter striker’s challenge on Juventus defender Federico Gatti, for which he received his first yellow card, was part of the reason that the Bianconeri fans started reacting to him with jeers.
This is not, of course, to excuse in any way the racist chants that were recorded coming from some Juventus supporters.
After scoring the late penalty to level things in the tie, the 29-year-old celebrated with the same celebration that he has used on numerous occasions, including during the international break alongside Belgian teammate Jeremy Doku.
Inter coach Simone Inzaghi also observed that this is in fact a normal celebration for the striker, not meant to incite fans, and called the incident a “misunderstanding.”
In the case of the celebration yesterday evening, though, Lukaku was clearly aiming his celebration in the direction of Juventus fans in the stand behind the Bianconeri goal.
The 29-year-old appeared to be visibly agitated with some Juventus supporters, and the fact that there were racist chants would certainly give an indication as to why.
The Gazzetta also note that Lukaku appeared to be addressing one fan or group of fans in particular with the words “Silence, silence” directed at the stand behind the goal.
Then, after celebrating the goal with his teammates, Lukaku started walking towards midfield, but along the way was confronted by Juventus wingback Juan Cuadrado.
There is some disagreement about the rationale for the Inter striker’s second yellow card, as the Gazzetta states that it was in reaction to some shoving between he and Cuadrado.
In any event, the Gazzetta note, the Italian FA and relevant authorities have all of the available video of the racist chants, whilst there will likely also be an appeal from Inter to have the player’s second yellow and suspension for the second leg overturned.