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Italian sports newspaper accused of fuelling racism with ‘Black Friday’ headline

Italian daily Corriere dello Sport has been accused of fuelling racism with its front page headline in Thursday’s edition of the newspaper.

The paper ran the headline ‘Black Friday’ alongside pictures of Inter Milan’s Romelu Lukaku and Roma’s Chris Smalling. The two former Manchester United team-mates will face each other in Friday’s Serie A meeting between the two teams.

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The anti-discrimination Fare network tweeted a picture of the front page along with the message: “The media fuels racism every day.”

Roma’s English-language Twitter account also expressed its shock and disgust at the headline.

“No one: Absolutely nobody: Not a single soul:” it said before adding “Corriere dello Sport headline writer:” together with an image of the front page.

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Inter did not reference the newspaper article, but tweeted: “Football is passion, culture and brotherhood. We are and will always be against all forms of discrimination.”

Serie A has been plagued by racist incidents this season, with Lukaku himself and Brescia forward Mario Balotelli among those to make allegations of being racially abused by supporters during games.

Only last week all 20 clubs in Italy’s top tier signed an open letter which called on “all those who love Italian football” to unite to try to eradicate its “serious problem with racism”.

Romelu Lukaku in action for Inter Milan

Romelu Lukaku in action for Inter Milan (Petr David Josek/PA).

Above its headline, Corriere dello Sport ran a subhead which read: “Lukaku and Smalling, former team-mates at United – and today idols at Inter and Roma – go head to head tomorrow: the Scudetto and Champions League football are up for grabs.”

In the article the newspaper appeared to attempt to highlight the league’s racism problem.

“In the faces of those idiots who boo, tomorrow everyone must instead go ‘oooh’ like children. It will be a Black Friday, but this is not an end-of-season sale,” the article said.

Chris Smalling scoring for Roma against Brescia

Chris Smalling scoring for Roma against Brescia (Andrew Medichini/AP).

It went on to describe Lukaku and Smalling as “two giants of colour”.

The pair have enjoyed impressive starts to their careers in Italy, with Lukaku’s 10 goals in 14 games helping Inter to the top of the table.

Smalling, who is on a season-long loan from Old Trafford, has established himself at the heart of the Roma defence.