Inter Milan fans, also known as Curva Nord ultras in Italy, have written a letter to Romelu Lukaku, defending the racist conduct of Cagliari fans last week.
Lukaku was subjected to Monkey chants at Cagliari Stadium, before and after scoring a penalty to secure Inter a 1-2 victory away from home in the Serie A.
It is not the first time the Italian club have been involved in a racist incident, and the league body is said to be considering whether to punish them.
But the Inter ultras, regarded as the club’s passionate fans, have now sent a baffling message to their new signing, insisted the Cagliari fans were not being racist towards him, and suggested the taunts should be taken as a sign of respect.
In the letter, the Inter fans wrote: “We are not racist and so are not the Cagliari fans.”
The Curva Nord go on to say the issue with racism must be tackled in schools, and does not lie with football fans or in football stadiums.
However, the letter has been criticised on social media, with many saying Inter fans should be supporting their player.
See full letter:
“We are writing you on behalf of the Curva Nord, yes, the guys who welcomed you at your arrival in Milan.
“We are really sorry you thought that what happened in Cagliari was racist. 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.
“We are a multi-ethnic fans organization and we have always welcomed players from everywhere.
“However, 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.
“You have to understand that in all Italian stadiums people cheer for their teams but at the same time they use to cheer against the opponents not for racism but to “help” their own team.
“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.
“True racism is a completely different story and all Italian football fans know it very well.
“When you declare that racism is a problem to be fought in Italy you just help the repression against all football fans including us and you contribute to create a problem that is not really there, not in the way that is perceived in other countries.
“We are very sensitive and inclusive with all people. We guarantee you that in our organization there are many fans of different races or fans coming from other parts of Italy that also use this ways to provoke their opponents even when the have the same races or are coming from the same areas.
“Please help us to clarify what racism really is and that Italian fans are not racist.
“The fight to REAL racism has to begin in schools not in the stadiums, fans are just fans and they behave in different ways when inside the stadium as opposed to when they are in real life.
“I guarantee you that what they do or say to an opponent player of another race is not what they would ever say to someone they would meet in real life.
“Italian fans may not be perfect and we can understand your frustration with this expressions but they are definitely not meant to be racist.”