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    Thursday, April 6, 2023

    Juventus Given Partial Stadium Ban for Racism Toward Lukaku

    Inter Milan's Romelu Lukaku (90) and Juventus' Juan Cuadrado argue following the Italian cup semi final first leg soccer match between Juventus and Inter Milan, at the Allianz Stadium, in Turin, Italy, Tuesday, April 4, 2023. (Marco Alpozzi/LaPresse via AP)

    Juventus was given a partial stadium ban for its next home game in the Italian Cup after some of its supporters directed racist chants at Inter Milan striker Romelu Lukaku.

    Lukaku was sanctioned with a second yellow card for provoking Juventus fans by holding his finger to his lips as if to silence the crowd after converting a stoppage-time penalty to earn Inter a 1-1 draw in the first leg of the semifinals on Tuesday.

    Lukaku was suspended for the second leg of the semifinals on April 26 by the Italian league judge on Thursday.

    Lukaku’s gesture enraged the opposing team and the game ended in a scuffle between the two squads, with Juventus winger Juan Cuadrado and Inter goalkeeper Samir Handanovic also sent off.

    Cuadrado was banned for three matches while Handanovic was banned for one game. Each player was fined 10,000 euros ($11,000).

    Part of the southern end of the Allianz Stadium will be closed for Juventus’ first home game in next season’s Italian Cup.

    Juventus said it would collaborate with authorities to identify the fans responsible while Lukaku’s management company reacted with outrage to the yellow card handed to the center forward.

    “The Italian authorities must use this opportunity to tackle racism, rather than punish the victim of the abuse,” Roc Nation Sports International president Michael Yormark said.

    Lukaku, who is Black, has been subjected to racist chants on numerous occasions during his two stints at Inter.

    Fiorentina beat Cremonese 2-0 in the first leg of the other semifinal series.

    The final is scheduled for May 24 in Rome.

    The incident involving Lukaku comes amid an uptick in racism in European soccer following a lull during the coronavirus pandemic.

    Also Thursday, Leipzig defender Benjamin Henrichs published hateful messages, including racist abuse, that he received on Instagram following his team’s 2-0 win over Borussia Dortmund in the German Cup.

    Henrichs posted a video on TikTok in which he referred to Wednesday’s victory and says “I’ll show you what my DMs look like,” before displaying a series of messages of threats and abuse against him and his family.

    One message had only monkey emojis, another called him the N-word, while another threatened to “find you and your family.”

    The 26-year-old Henrichs, who is Black, was born in Germany and has made seven appearances for the country’s national soccer team.

    Back in Italy, Lazio was also given a suspended partial stadium ban this week after some of its fans directed antisemitic chants at Roma during the city derby last month.

    The Serie A judge ordered the Curva Nord, the northern end of the Stadio Olimpico where Lazio’s hard-core “ultra” fans sit, to be closed for a game but suspended the sentence in consideration of Lazio’s decision to hand out three lifetime bans to involved spectators.

    If there is another case of fan misbehavior over the next year, Lazio will be ordered to serve the one-game partial stadium ban in addition to any new penalties.

    One fan who wore a shirt with a reference to Adolf Hitler at the derby and two others who performed Roman salutes, which are associated with fascism, were banned for life by Lazio.

    On Tuesday in Spain, Real Madrid forward Vinícius Júnior testified against a Mallorca fan accused of racially insulting him at a Spanish league game, saying he will not accept an apology.

    The 22-year-old Vinícius has been subjected to insults since arriving in Spain five years ago. The Spanish league, which was among the accusing parties against the Mallorca fan, has filed several formal complaints to authorities over insults against the Brazilian, with some of them being shelved.

    The league recently increased the number of monitors at matches to identify perpetrators when Vinícius plays.

    The attacks against the Brazilian increased after he began celebrating his goals by dancing. -AP

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